The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctor shuts out boy

Behrampore, June 17: Five in the morning is no time for a child to fall ill. Not at a rural health centre in Jalangi, at least.

Ekhon patient dekhbo na. Bela nota-sharey notar shomoy outdoorey niyey ashun (I won’t treat patients now. Bring him to the outdoor at 9-9.30 am,” growled a groggy Gouranga Sardar, slamming the door in Bimal Mondal’s face.

Bimal’s eight-year-old son Bidhan was in his arms, writhing from stomach cramps. A while after, he lay dead in his father’s lap under a tree on the health centre campus, mother Bandana watching on.

Drawn by the wails of the bereaved parents, a furious mob of about 3,000 soon encircled the Sagarpara health centre, about 260 km from Calcutta, hurling stones, destroying property and threatening to lynch Sardar.

Till 3 pm, they kept up the siege, turning a deaf ear to police pleas ' there is a post on the two-bigha campus itself ' to disperse. After they split, a large force headed by subdivisional officer Snehasish Dirghangi moved in and packed off the doctor to Behrampore town with police escort.

Bimal has lodged a complaint with the police against the doctor, holding him responsible for Bidhan’s death. “Because of that doctor, my son is dead. They are not doctors, they are murderers,” he said.

District superintendent of police Sanjay Singh confirmed he had received the complaint. “We have started an investigation and sent the body for post-mortem,” he said.

Bimal said he had taken his youngest son to the same doctor yesterday morning after he developed cramps. The tablets given by the doctor had given Bimal much relief, he said, but the pain relapsed.

That’s why he knocked on the doctor’s door again. “The doctor was sleeping in his quarters. When I called him, he told me to bring the patient at 9-9.30. So, I went with my son and wife to wait under a tree.”

Bimal said he felt totally helpless as Bidhan cried and whimpered in turns. “I went again and again in front of the doctor’s quarters and shouted that he should look at my son as his condition was worsening. But the doctor did not respond.”

A nurse and an ambulance driver did come out on hearing him scream, he said, but went back after hearing the doctor had asked him to return later.

“Gradually my son went limp. We first thought he had become unconscious. Only later die we realise he had died,” Bimal said, breaking down.

District chief medical officer of health, Sachchidananda Sarkar, said a probe had been ordered.

“If the doctor is found guilty, he will be punished. But I cannot support the mob violence.”

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