| Policemen lathicharge Trinamul Congress protestors outside Suraksha hospital in Salt Lake on Wednesday. Picture by Aranya Sen
A healing hub in Salt Lake turned into a battlefield on Wednesday afternoon, when a mob led by a Trinamul Congress leader went on the rampage.
The allegation: negligence on part of Suraksha hospital had caused the death of Trinamul MLA Jyotipriya Mallick’s eight-year-old niece last week.
Shouting slogans, a crowd of close to a hundred assaulted Somnath Chatterjee, chief executive officer (CEO) of the hospital, and several staff members, while causing some damage to the premises.
The hospital authorities charged Mallick with vandalism, while the Trinamul leader accused them of assault in two complaints lodged with Bidhannagar (South) police.
Antarleena, daughter of the Trinamul MLA’s brother Debapriya Mallick, was afflicted with Down’s syndrome — a chromosomal disorder that weakens the body’s immune system — and had been admitted last Thursday with acute diarrhoea and vomiting. She developed septicaemia, suffered a cardiac arrest and died on Friday.
“Debapriya Mallick, himself a doctor, had contacted us on Saturday, complaining that we had been negligent. We agreed to a meeting at 2.30 pm on Wednesday to discuss the matter,” said Chirantan Bose, Suraksha hospital’s medical superintendent.
At 1.30 pm, a convoy of around five private cars with “Mallick” stickers on the windshields, screeched to a halt outside Suraksha and the belligerent group barged into the reception area and demanded that the officials immediately hand over the medical reports of the “victim”.
“We gave Antarleena’s medical records to the father and pointed out that there had been no lacunae in the treatment. We also proposed that the reports be sent to the Indian Academy of Paediatricians for verification,” said Bose.
Trouble broke out over the missing “bed head ticket” of the patient, for which the hospital asked the Mallicks to put in an application.
As tempers were frayed, a scuffle broke out between hospital officials and Mallick’s supporters. “Two women grabbed my arms and began slapping me, even as some men kept kicking me in the back,” complained CEO Chatterjee.
Four other staff members, including a securityman, were beaten up, a glass door and some other items were smashed. “An MRI, carried out after the assault, showed Chatterjee had suffered a spinal injury. He has been admitted to the ICU,” said medical superintendent Bose.
Police reached the hospital as soon as news of the assault arrived, claimed Humayun Kabir, Salt Lake sub divisional police officer.
“The government is determined to put an end to such vandalism in hospitals. The mob smashed a glass door and several flower pots and damaged a few machines, beside assaulting the staff members,” said Kabir.