The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Disease is healthcare collapse Buddha cure: Political penalty

Calcutta, Nov. 3: Two junior doctors lost their jobs today and four others faced suspension at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government cracked the whip with an alacrity not been seen before.

Despite the tough action, the charges were not spelt out. Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said: “Charges are known, newspapers have reported.”

Newspapers reported baby Shabana’s death, there was no action. After Susmita Biswas’ death, the government took seven days to conduct an inquiry and announce transfers.

RG Kar officials said the charges against the six were of medical negligence and attacking patients’ relatives and media representatives, though the inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Nityagopal Banik on Saturday and the events that followed started only today.

Two junior doctors became unemployed without an inquiry to establish guilt. It’s not clear what forms the basis for recommending suspension of the others — all four are interns.

Manoj Bhattacharya, the dean of the medical faculty of Calcutta University, said the university’s disciplinary committee would hear the interns before enforcing suspension.

Mishra described the punishment as “unprecedented in his tenure”. But the Indian Medical Association called it “surprisingly hasty”.

None of the punished junior doctors treated Banik, records reveal. More important, none belongs to the CPM fronts (the Students’ Federation of India and the Junior Doctors’ Council).

Three of them are activists of the opposition Aidso (an affiliate of the SUCI), whose presence on the RG Kar campus is inadequate to engineer the violence wrought on Saturday night, when some 300 enraged junior doctors poured out of hostels after Banik’s relatives allegedly assaulted one of their colleagues. The SFI controls all 25 students’ union seats.

The other three have no political affiliation. One, Manas Maiti, was beaten up on October 19 by relatives of a patient.

Their teachers, colleagues and even policemen said they were guilty of “political disobedience” by starting a ceasework and hunger strike. “They are being punished for their refusal to go off hunger strike when functionaries of the CPM-affiliated Association of Health Service Doctors requested them not to embarrass the government,” an RG Kar teacher said.

The health minister, however, said: “Their political affiliation doesn’t matter.”

Political affiliation did matter when Banik’s relatives lodged an FIR against five interns alleging negligence and assault. The dead man’s son, Kajal, admitted today that local CPM councillor Dilip Banerjee had helped them prepare the FIR.

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