What is the punishment for slapping a pregnant woman to induce labour and severely damaging her ear'
Nothing — if the address of the assault happens to be one of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s hospitals and the assailant can convince the powers that be that he is “repentant”.
On July 5, Supratik Basu earned the ‘slap doctor’ sobriquet for what he did to Sandhya Mondal while trying to induce labour in the gynaecology department of Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital.
The mother-to-be was left with a damaged right ear, partial deafness and disfigured lips.
On July 20, Basu, a post-graduate trainee, was back in the hospital wards.
“We have decided to allow him to resume duties because the head of his department (gynaecology), Debasish Banerjee, told us Basu was repentant,” said Chittaranjan Maiti, director of medical education.
According to sources, two of the three doctor-members of the inquiry committee, that submitted its report three days after the incident, found Basu’s act “impossible to accept” and recommended “exemplary action” against him.
“I am not going to offer a comment on the issue,” said panel chief Debasish Banerjee on Tuesday.
“It is for the government to explain things. All I can say is I am not sad that my children have not become doctors,” he added.
“We cannot take action against a university student,” claimed health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra. “Calcutta University will have to come into the picture, as he (Basu) is a student of that campus.”
According to NRS sources, the exoneration of Basu had more to do with the backing he received from the Student’s Federation of India (SFI), a formidable affiliate of the ruling CPM, than the report of the inquiry committee.
“We cannot tell you whether he (Basu) is an active member (of the SFI). We will have to go through certain documents… Call us tomorrow,” Apurba Chatterjee, general secretary of SFI, said on Tuesday.
“We only want to ensure that an innocent person is not punished,” he added.
On Tuesday, several doctors attached to the NRS gynaecology department confirmed on condition of anonymity that Basu’s “well-known links” with the SFI had prompted the government to go slow on the ‘slap doctor’.
For Sandhya Mondal, meanwhile, the ordeal that began on July 5 — when she was taken to the labour room of the gynaecology ward, only to be slapped hard by Basu — continues. Her two-week-old baby boy is still in an incubator, fighting for life.