The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja cash hunters break doctor’s nose

Malda, Oct. 24: Sudhir Kalyankar did not think twice when he was offered a job at a clinic here a fortnight ago.

A fatter pay packet and the independent charge was too tempting for the radiologist with Hyderabad’s Apollo Hospitals.

As Kalyankar today lay on a bed of the nursing home he quit Apollo for, his nose broken, forgetting the Bengal chapter and finding a job elsewhere was on top of his mind. The doctor was thrashed by a bunch of youths after he refused to pay Rs 1,001 as Kali puja subscription last night.

Kalyankar, a Marathi born and brought up in an Andhra Pradesh village, had joined Malda Nursing Home on October 12. After he returned from work last evening, about a dozen youths came to his house and handed him a receipt for Rs 1,001 as subscription for the puja.

He refused to pay and offered Rs 50 instead. An altercation followed. The angry youths then barged into his house and beat him up. Kalyankar was flung to the ground, kicked and rained with blows till he managed to flee his own house and reach the nursing home. While his colleagues attended to the bleeding nose, the owner called up superintendent of police Pankaj Dutta.

Kalyankar was taken to the police station in an ambulance. When the superintendent headed to Abhirampur with his force around 8.30 pm, the youths were nowhere to be seen.

“I thought Malda would be a calm and quiet place to work. That is why I came here. My family members had tried telling me that Bengal was not the best place to live in but I had not believed them. The youths had been threatening me for the past three days. But even then I had no idea that they could assault me,” said the doctor.

“Anju, my wife, called today and urged me to return to Andhra as soon as possible. I do not have the will to stay and work here any longer,” said Kalyankar. Anju is doing her doctorate in preventive medicine in Nagpur.

Dutta, however, tried to make light of the incident. “It is not a very serious case. The youths pushed him around and got into an altercation. The doctor wanted to pay them Rs 50 but they were demanding a higher subscription,” said the police chief.

But he added: “No one will be spared. We have picked up the cashier of the club. The rest of the gang will also be arrested.” A police camp has been set up outside Kalyankar’s nursing home.

The Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) Malda chapter threatened a strike across the state if the culprits were not arrested in 48 hours. The IMA has faxed a message to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, complaining against police inaction. The cashier of the club has been arrested but the “real culprits” are at large, an IMA spokesman said.

A member of the club, Sandip Pal, said the incident was being blown out of proportion. “No one assaulted the doctor. We are being framed,” he said without explaining the doctor’s bleeding nose.

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