| Chhabi Mondal on her bed in the hospital. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Feb. 1: Angry relatives of a newborn ransacked the maternity section of the district hospital here today after the child was wrongly pronounced dead.
The protesters claimed that the baby, taken for dead, was “kept aside in the labour room” for more than 12 hours.
“It was only when my relatives sneaked in for a last glimpse of the ‘dead child’ that they saw the baby moving. But by then, more than 12 hours had passed and he had not even been nursed, forget special care. If anything happens to the child now, it will be the hospital’s responsibility,” said Ripon Mondol, the baby’s father.
The superintendent of the hospital, Maniklal Das, admitted that the baby was alive. “He has been kept in an incubator,” said Das.
Relatives of the Mondals alleged that a section of the hospital staff had planned to steal the baby. Led by Englishbazar MLA Krishnendu Chowdhury, they demanded a probe into the incident.
The district chief medical officer of health (CMOH), Radharaman Banik, said an inquiry will be conducted. “If we find that someone is at fault, he or she will not be spared,” Banik said. He said he had asked the Mondals to submit their complaints in writing. “We are also identifying those who ransacked the ward and I can assure you that they, too, will be brought to book,” the CMOH said.
Both Das and the karmadhakshya of the zilla parishad, Susanta Sarkar, along with Banik, had rushed to the ward when trouble broke out at 3 pm. As a crowd of angry protesters went on the rampage, doctors and nurses fled the scene leaving behind a group of frightened women in the maternity ward.
Angry men began breaking windowpanes and furniture, but fled when a large police contingent arrived at the spot half an hour later. No one was arrested. A large quantity of medicines was destroyed.
A tailor from Jalalpur village, 25 km from here, Mondal had admitted his wife Chhabi to the hospital on January 30. He alleged that ever since her admission, the doctors and the nurses had been stressing that the condition of both the mother and the child were “not satisfactory”.
“Last night, my wife delivered a son after a Caesarean operation. We were told to come back in the morning, as the baby was not well. Today, around 9 am, one of the nurses said since the baby was dead we should go to the ward master who asked us to return after four hours to claim the body. We came back at 3 pm and some of my family members went to the labour room and saw the baby moving under the shroud,” said Ripon.
Banik said the doctor should not have told the ward staff that the baby did not cry after birth. “The ward master acted in haste,” Banik said.