The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Collapsed on road, patient robbed of chance to live

Calcutta, April 4: For more than an hour, the elderly man lay on the busy road gasping for breath. Some stood and stared, others just walked past. One, it seems, even robbed him.

Balaram Nag, a 60-year-old cardiac patient, might have lived had even one among the crowd of onlookers lent a helping hand after he collapsed on the pavement in a Bhowanipore area. No one did.

By the time help came, it was too late. He died early this morning in SSKM hospital.

Hospital superintendent Santanu K. Tripathy said Nag died of cardio-respiratory failure accompanied by a cerebral attack. “Time is an important factor in these cases,” Tripathy added. “Any delay can add to the odds against the patient’s survival.”

It was around 7 last evening when Nag left his Vivekananda Road house for a cardiologist’s chamber on Andul Raj Road in Bhowanipore. He hadn’t been keeping well and wanted a check-up. “He had a pacemaker implant a few years ago,” said Avishek, his only son.

Nag’s wife Krishna said her husband had a 500-rupee note on him and some loose change. “But the police said they found only Rs 30 on my husband,” she added.

“It seems somebody frisked him and, taking advantage of his illness, stole the money,” said a police officer.

No one knows if Nag travelled by bus or a taxi to the doctor’s chamber. But it appears that the state government employee got off near Bhowanipore police station because he was found lying on Priya Nath Mullick Road, a short cut he normally took to the chamber nearby.

Today, some people remember him lying on the road around 8, and expecting someone else would help him out.

“I was coming from a grocer’s shop when I saw people gathered around a man on the pavement. I didn’t stop as I was in a hurry,” said Polly Karmakar, a local resident. “I thought at least one of them would take him to hospital. The road was bustling with people and vehicles.”

Nag lay on the road till 9, when a patrol team took him to Bhowanipore police station. From there, with the help of Hive India, a voluntary organisation, he was shifted to SSKM where he died at 4.15 am.

“Given that it takes hardly 40 minutes by bus to reach the area where we found him, we can safely assume that he had been lying there for more than an hour before we found him,” said police station officer-in-charge Anil Kar.

“We tried our best to save him. If we had been informed a few minutes earlier, we might have saved the man,” said Hive India executive director Nitai Das Mukherjee.

It’s not that people have never come forward to help. In January, 52-year-old Amal Krishna Talukdar survived a massive heart attack, thanks to Dinesh, a student. The postal employee might have died in the street surrounded by onlookers had Dinesh not stopped and taken him to hospital.

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