The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blood price: humiliation

Burdwan, July 28: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may say 'do it now', but who cares'

The treatment of a cancer patient on deathbed has to wait in Bengal for a lowly hospital employee to finish his good night's sleep.

Sixty-year-old Binod Malik was abused by a group-D employee for trying to wake him up early morning at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital blood bank.

A resident of Gurap in Hooghly, Malik had to wait at the blood bank gate for minutes that seemed endless in his state of despair and keep pressing the calling bell.

The general duty attendant, Tushar Kanti De, finally made an appearance, but greeted Malik with a volley of verbal assault.

The elderly man could not afford an altercation. His sister-in-law, in an advanced stage of cervical cancer, needed the blood urgently. He handed over the requisition slip, collected the AB positive blood and left. 'I was alone and my cousin's wife was dying. I had to digest the insult,' Malik, a farmer, said later.

But a group of students from the University Institute of Technology, who had gathered there as their batch mate Rima Hazra had to be hospitalised with chest pain last evening, watched humiliation being heaped on the man.

They protested and De shot back. An altercation followed. Suddenly, the students rushed to the iron collapsible gate and began banging themselves against it. The gate crashed and they barged into the blood bank office. It was ransacked and De was beaten up.

As the word spread, other students from the institute ' some of whom were elsewhere in the hospital and others who lived nearby ' joined in to break chairs and tables as the resident medical officer of the blood bank, Siri Majhi, looked on, helpless.

Rajiv Guin, a second-year student, said: 'We were shocked at the way the attendant behaved with the elderly man. We were so angry that we protested. But the hospital employee did not regret his action. So, we taught him a lesson.'

A mobile force from the Burdwan police station failed to disperse the mob. Reinforcements were sought and lathi-wielding policemen moved in.

Siri lodged an FIR with the police. But no arrests were reported till late evening.

Medical college and hospital superintendent Sarit Chowdhury said he had received a verbal complaint of misbehaviour. 'We have set up a two-member committee to inquire into the incident. The panel will report in a week,' he added.

Debashish Bhattacharya, the head of gynaecology at the hospital, said: 'Pushpa Malik is in a very critical state and we had informed her family about it.'

De, who was admitted to the hospital, denied having insulted Malik.

District police chief Peeyush Pandey said a probe has begun on the basis of the FIR. Burdwan University, too, has initiated an inquiry ' to find out how many students of its institute were involved.

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