The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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External panel in death probe

In a bid to conduct a “transparent” probe into the death of Rajnis Patel, the state health department has decided to form an external committee, comprising legal experts and doctors working outside SSKM Hospital. Building a foolproof case before taking stern action against anyone was the other reason behind the move, said director of medical education C.R. Maity on Tuesday.

The new committee may also include one or more SSKM doctors. The present committee of three SSKM doctors is slated to submit its report on Wednesday.

Budding cricketer Rajnis died in the orthopaedics ward of SSKM Hospital on June 2 due to alleged medical negligence after being admitted on February 7 with a shin-bone fracture. But while the government swung into action immediately after the incident, suspending orthopaedic surgeon Dilip Majumdar on the basis of a preliminary report, the police are still dragging their feet on the case.

Three days have passed since city police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty announced that the detective department would investigate the case, but neither the Bhowanipore police nor the detectives seem to be clear about who would shoulder the onus.

Apart from lodging a case under Section 304A (negligence) of the Indian Penal Code, the police have done precious little to show that a probe is underway.

The police have visited the Patel family on routine inspections and collected information. Officials of Bhowanipore police station informed Rajnis’ relatives that they were not probing the case, as the detective department was taking over. “Immediately after Rajnis died, a police team from Bhowanipore met his father, Manoj, and took down the details. Later, they told us it was up to the detective department to investigate the case,” said Brij Mohan Bhat, assigned by Manoj Patel to look after the legal aspects of the case.

Rajnis’ family then tried to contact the detective department, but no one seemed to know what was happening. The cops have not interrogated any of the doctors involved in the treatment of Rajnis either. Neither have they spoken to SSKM surgeon superintendent Deb Dwaipayan Chattopadhyay. “Neither the local police nor detectives from Lalbazar have visited me or called over telephone. The local police told me the case has been handed over to the detective department,” Chattopadhyay said.

Deputy commissioner of police (south) Kuldip Singh said: “I was told that the detective department would take over the case. The papers are ready and can be handed over to them any time.”

However, deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra said: “No, we are not investigating the case. The local police station is supposed to take care of it.” Mitra added that he had “no idea” whether his department would eventually take over the case. Bhowanipore thana has resolved to wait and watch. The duty officer on Tuesday said a routine investigation was complete and the onus now lay with Lalbazar.

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