The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe fails to pin blame for assault

Exactly a week after the state government recommended punishment for six junior doctors of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital for indiscipline and negligence, Calcutta Police seems to have thrown up its hands after trying, desperately and unsuccessfully, to pin the blame on five of them, named in a separate FIR.

The FIR, filed on November 2 by relatives of Nityagopal Banik, who died at RG Kar a day earlier, accused the five interns of assaulting them and some other patients’ relatives. Four of the five were suspended and two other house-staff members dismissed from duty.

The police inquiry, however, has failed to collect “even a shred of evidence” and establish any guilt. Deputy commissioner (north) P. Ravi said the probe had made “very little progress”, but officials at the thana level were more forthcoming. “The investigation has led us to believe that the FIR was motivated,” a Chitpur police station official said. “Bojhen-i to, shob political byapar. Ki aar bolbo (You understand, it is all about politics. What else is there to say)'”

The five interns named in the FIR were Subhankar Chatterjee, Subhajit Ray, Biplab Chandra, Rakesh Sharma and Dwaipayan Majumdar. The first three belong to AIDSO, students’ wing of the SUCI, and the last was a Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad sympathiser. Only Rakesh was an “apolitical” accused.

Officials told Metro that the original complainants — members of the Banik family of Patipukur — now seem to be having second thoughts about the five they had named. And the other witnesses, mostly neighbours of the Baniks, whose homes the investigators visited separately, were not sure they could recall the name of a single trouble-making junior doctor.

“One neighbour asked us whether we were in our right senses, asking the name of a ‘junior doctor’ they had never seen before or after the incident,” said a Chitpur thana official. “Several witnesses told us they were not sure whether the attackers were doctors at all,” he added.

One point emerging out of the probe was the dubious role of local CPM councillor Dilip Bandopadhyay. “It now seems the Baniks did not know the name of even one of the doctors they complained against,” an official said. “They were ‘helped’ in identifying the ‘mischief-makers’ by the local CPM councillor,” he added.

A divisional officer said the FIR could end up as an “embarrassment”. “Usually, if the FIR is found to be vague after a detailed probe, we wind up investigations,” he said. “The only factor that prevents us from doing this is the political dimension the case has taken on,” he added.

He admitted, though, that no decision could be taken at the police station, or even the divisional, level. “The fate of this case will hinge on what our superiors tell us to do,” he explained.

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