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Tout trauma at hospital

- Rs 20000 demand for prisoner surgery spurs protests

Members of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha created a ruckus at MGM Medical College and Hospital in Sakchi on Tuesday following reports that an undertrial prisoner from Ghatshila was asked to cough up Rs 20,000 for a surgery at the state-run heal hub.

Arun Kumar Rai (40), who is lodged at the subdivisional jail in connection with an accident, was brought to the hospital last week with hernia. Doctors advised Rai, a resident of Rahargora and a driver by profession, to undergo a surgery without delay to get rid of the infection.

On Tuesday, one person at the hospital who identified himself as Narendra Pandey told Rai, who is currently under observation at MGM’s prisoners’ ward, that he would have to pay Rs 20,000 for the operation. Rai was shocked to hear the demand because first, he was under trial and second the hospital is a state-run facility where treatment is supposed to be free.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Rai said doctors told him on Tuesday that they would fix a date for his surgery within the next few days. “However, one Narendra Pandey suddenly enquired about my health problems. Then he asked me to arrange for Rs 20,000 if I wanted to get the hernia operation done.”

Rai added that the man, who was sitting beside some hospital employees, also demanded money from one of his family members. His relatives approached the Morcha for help. Members, led by district unit president Ratan Mahto, launched a protest on hospital premises.

However, Pandey could not be traced. A verbal complaint was lodged with hospital superintendent A.N. Mishra over phone.

“The superintendent has promised to conduct an investigation into the matter. But if need be, we will lodge an FIR with Sakchi police in this regard,” Mahto said.

The Morcha leader added that Pandey might be an outsider. “There are touts at the hospital who often follow cases of patients with serious ailments and extort money from their kin,” he claimed.

Mishra, who is also principal of MGM Medical College, said: “I have received the complaint and will look into the matter. The Morcha leader has been asked to be present at the hospital during an inquiry tomorrow (Wednesday).”

This is not the first time when unscrupulous people, in connivance with hospital employees, have tried to extort money from patients or their kin. Superintendent Mishra too admitted that the same was possible at a government hospital. “I will find out if there are insiders helping such people,” he said.