The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Wild goose chase

Sir — Wasn’t Ravi Kant Sharma supposed to be so well hidden that all the Delhi police’s best efforts had proved ineffective in unearthing him' So how could he suddenly walk out of the woodwork one fine morning and into the arms of the Haryana police' Was this what the report, “Shivani suspect beats hunters to court” (Sept 28), calls a police “chase”' The search for Sharma seems to have been more of a cat-and-mouse game. In fact, the way the Shivani Bhatnagar case has been progressing is farcical to put it mildly — with Madhu Sharma giving shrill press conferences and the two Sharma daughters making allegations of police persecution. The investigation procedure adopted by the police — which suddenly seem to have woken up to the importance of the case three years after Bhatnagar’s murder — is enough to make people believe the Sharmas’ shrill protests about being framed. The casualty in all this, as always, shall be the truth.

Yours faithfully,
Ranjan Basu, Calcutta

Post mortem

Sir — The inquiry into the deaths of 14 children at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital has concluded that none of the deaths could have been prevented (“Baby death blame on hospital staff”, Sept 20). The inquiry’s two other recommendations are transferring the hospital superintendent and disciplinary action against a few doctors and nurses.

The Indian Medical Association has also professed unhappiness with the verdict. It was the government’s failure to provide adequate infrastructure, it felt, that was responsible for the abysmal conditions in hospitals. But isn’t it the duty of doctors to bring the inadequacies to the notice of the patients and their families, or refuse to treat the patient. Did the doctors at B.C. Roy Hospital do any of this'

As it is, the verdict of the probe committee is a convenient one. A verdict of negligence would have indicted the entire medical community, not just the B.C. Roy Hospital. It gives the government the opportunity to wriggle out of the mess. But does Surjya Kanta Mishra really feel that citizens will believe his statement that the transfer of the hospital super had nothing to do with his embarrassing the government by talking to the media'

The cause of the deaths of so many children cannot be determined by a closed-door investigation by a few local doctors who have every reason to be biased. Justice should not only be done, it must also appear to be done. The government must make the medical records of all the deceased children public so that independent opinion on the case may be sought from experts elsewhere. The mess in healthcare has been kept undercover for too long at the expense of hapless patients.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Columbus, Ohio

Sir — The deaths of 14 children at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital attracted extensive media coverage. But a similar string of child deaths in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital has not received as much attention. On September 5, 2002, my wife, Ruma Pal, was admitted to this hospital at around 7 am. Even after labour pains started, the doctor did not attend to her. A Caesarian operation was done after 27 hours and a healthy female baby was born around 11 am. According to the doctor’s report, the baby was crying, healthy and had good reflexes.

But around 1 am, she started vomiting blood through the nose and died. How could a healthy baby weighing 3.3 kilograms die' There must have been some negligence on the part of the doctors, house-staff, interns and nurses in the labour room and the nursery where newborns are kept. I have complained to the hospital superintendent and have also lodged a first information report with the Matigara police station but nothing has come of it yet.

Yours faithfully,
Prasanta Pal, Darjeeling

Sir — The report of the deaths of 18 more children at the B.C. Roy Hospital was given very little space in the September 21st edition (“Fewer patients but deaths still high”). Perhaps this is because the hospital authorities have been forbidden to give out any information to the media. But photographs of the grieving parents, along with other details like date of admission, the children’s ailment, the cause of death and so on could have been given.

By transferring the hospital superintendent, the government seems to feel it has done enough. Rather than inadequate infrastructure, the lack of personal care is the main cause of so many deaths.

Privatization may not be the answer, but corporate house could be asked to turn around the management without raising fees.

Yours faithfully,
Mahesh K. Rathi, Calcutta

Sir — Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has recommended increasing the powers of the hospital superintendent for better control of hospitals (“Buddha takes the scalpel to doctors”, Sept 25). He has also said that he will not tolerate trade unionism in hospitals. But there is no discipline at all among C and D level hospital staff. Nobody can touch them because they belong to aggressive trade unions. Even hospital superintendents don’t dare to take action against the errant employees. Bhattacharjee and his cabinet must decide what is to be protected — unionism or discipline' The two can not run together.

Yours faithfully,
Sudarsan Nandi, Midnapore

Parting shot

Sir — A Gujarat bandh and an all-India bandh was called by political organizations immediately after the attack on the Swaminarayan temple. What is the logic behind this move' Will the terrorist organization responsible for the attack lose by these bandhs' Will the victims of the tragedy or the survivors be benefited by these bandhs'

Compared to the attack on the World Trade Centre in the United States of America, the attack on Akshardham was nothing. Did anybody call a bandh then' No, every American was behind the government to track, capture and punish those responsible for the attack. Our government too must be helped in the task of finding and punishing the guilty. Such frequent bandhs not only serve no purpose but they also harm the economy.

Yours faithfully,
C.V.K. Moorthy, Sandur

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