Purulia, Dec. 30: Patients ran helter-skelter when a 1,500-strong mob went on the rampage at a health centre, ripping out saline sachets attached to the invalids' arms, pulling out rods used to hang mosquito nets to smash equipment and assaulting the block medical officer of health.
The mob of residents of Para, 275 km from Calcutta, was protesting against the death of a goldsmith, shot at by dacoits last night, at the clinic.
They alleged that Bholanath Dey, who was bleeding profusely from the gunshot wound, was kept unattended at the health centre for about seven hours and referred to Purulia Sadar Hospital only this morning. Dey was declared dead at the hospital.
Moloy Raj Chanda, the block medical officer, has been admitted in the same hospital. He is in shock and refuses to return to the clinic.
As news of Dey's death came in, angry residents stormed into the health centre this morning and pulled out the saline pouches, tore away iron rods attached to the beds and used them to break furniture, the refrigerator, bottles of medicine and other equipment. They also battered Chanda's car and another scooter parked on the compound.
Alarmed, 36 patients admitted in the health centre fled, some on their own and some with the help of relatives.
Sub-divisional police official Imran Wahib rushed to the hospital with a huge posse of policemen and brought the situation under control. No arrests were reported.
District chief medical officer of health Bhujanga Bhusan Patra said it was not possible to say immediately how serious Bholanath's bullet wound was. 'We need an inquiry to find that out. Maybe the doctor concerned did not realise the seriousness of the wound. Now we are more concerned with cleaning up the mess at Para and bringing in the patients,' he said.
Bholanath's brother Dulal blamed Chanda. 'We repeatedly requested the BMOH to refer my severely bleeding brother to the Sadar hospital but he did not. When he did, it was too late. My brother would have lived if there was proper treatment,' he added.
Dulal and others have submitted a memorandum to the police station, demanding Chanda's arrest.
The police said Bholanath and Dulal were returning on bicycles after closing their jewellery shop around 7.40 pm yesterday when a gang of six intercepted them near the police station. After an altercation, they opened fire, hitting Bholanath on his right shoulder.