The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM saves own skin

Calcutta, Oct. 23: Bengal is not Pakistan: so acquittal in haste, punishment at leisure.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today gave a clean chit to health department officials in the blood test kit scandal.

“An impression has been created as if the health department knew about the matter and wanted to keep it under wraps,” Bhattacharjee said. “This is totally false.”

In his first comments at length on the tainted blood kits, the chief minister said it was on the basis of an FIR lodged by the health department that police cracked down on the racket. “In fact, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, health department officials and police held a joint meeting in my chamber and the decision for police operation was taken in my presence,” the chief minister said.

Pointing out that a probe is on, he promised severe action against those involved. “This is a heinous crime and they (Govind Sarda and two others) have been arrested and denied bail. Law will take its own course,” he added.

However, Bhattacharjee added: “Bengal is not Pakistan and we cannot punish anybody in a hurry.”

But officials said that even if senior health officials were not involved in the racket, they were “callous” in ignoring complaints about the kits. Besides, the expired dates or signs of tampering were clearly visible on the kit pouches. The tested blood could have passed on lethal diseases to some recipients.

In early September, the police busted a racket in the supply of kits that were either tampered with or had passed their use-by date. The kits were meant to test the presence of HIV and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses in blood samples.

Monozyme India, which had supplied the kits, today filed a petition in the high court, asking for a special officer to probe the case.

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