The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctor arrests trigger panic

Five arrests in the past 15 days and more than a dozen since chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s assurance on Doctors’ Day (July 1) — that medical practitioners would not be arrested at random on the basis of complaints lodged by patients’ families — has sparked panic in the medical fraternity of Calcutta.

Doctors had heaved a sigh of relief after the chief minister’s announcement that medical cases were too technical to be taken up by the police. The chief minister had assured that only after a technical committee found faults could a policeman arrest a doctor.

The directive, however, never reached ground level as doctors are still being hauled up for deaths, which has now sent them scurrying to Bhattacharjee for an audience. “We can no longer wait and watch. How can a chief minister’s directive be flouted in such a manner' Doctors are being arrested on flimsy grounds. We have, therefore, decided to meet the chief minister and ask him to solve our problems,” said S. Ganguly, president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bengal branch.

He added that even Kunal Saha, who had earlier dragged two reputed doctors to court and won a libel suit, said the police “would not understand the technicalities” of a difficult case. Top IMA functionaries met in the city on Thursday to discuss the next course of action. The decision to approach Bhattacharjee was speeded up after the IMA received frantic calls from doctors, saying that they were being hauled up for no fault of theirs.

During the Pujas, following complaints lodged by residents of the Gouribari area after a 92-year-old died of malignant malaria, a doctor, Shanti Saha, was arrested, and taken into custody, where he was allegedly subjected to mental torture.

“We had conducted a separate probe and found out that the doctor was not to be blamed for the death. But the police, yielding to political pressure, took him in custody,” Ganguly said.

On October 24, Soumya Ghosh, an orthopaedic surgeon, was arrested in Burdwan after a patient died from an overdose of anaesthesia (Zyloric). The doctor, who was initially in police custody, has now been remanded in judicial custody. “The technicalities of the case must be looked into, but the doctor is still in custody, as he has been denied bail,” added Ganguly.

A few weeks ago, the police arrested several doctors of a prominent nursing home in Salt Lake, following a dispute over property rights.

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