The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Head pulled out, baby still inside
- Quack messes up delivery and scoots

Behrampore, Feb. 21: A quack beheaded a baby during delivery in a Murshidabad town last evening and almost killed the mother, bringing to focus again people’s lack of awareness and the roaring business of such impostors across Bengal.

The 21-year-old woman’s father had taken her to Iqbal Hossain, though the subdivi- sional hospital was only 2 km from his house in Jangipur, about 250 km from Calcutta.

Ajmira Biwi was finally taken there, when she was on the brink of death with a portion of the baby stuck inside her. She was declared out of danger today.

In Bengal, 65 out of 100 neo-natal deaths are because of unsafe delivery.

A resident of the Jangipur municipal area, Shahjahan Khan, a mason, had always relied on the quack, the much sought-after local “daktarbabu”.

When his daughter felt cramps last evening, the first place that came to his mind was Iqbal’s clinic. He did not know that the municipality had a free ambulance service specifically for such emergencies. The ambulance was parked about 500 metres from his house.

Ajmira was taken to Iqbal’s chamber at Baroj, a kilometre away, in a rickshaw.

“As soon as he saw my daughter, he declared that the baby had to be delivered right away,” Shahjahan said.

Jangipur subdivisional police officer Nirmal Bhattacharya said Iqbal had an untrained midwife as assistant. “When the head showed, they tried to pull the boy out holding it. They must have pulled hard. The head was torn away. As Ajmira lay bleeding, Iqbal and the midwife fled the scene.”

Shahjahan, who had brought his daughter home to ensure care for his daughter during pregnancy, appeared a changed man today. “I committed a blunder by not taking her to the hospital. I won’t spare the quack. I’ll sue him,” he said.

Iqbal is absconding, the police said.

Last evening, Shahjahan saw the quack and the midwife disappear. He went into the clinic, saw his daughter writhing in pain and raised an alarm. Local residents rushed in and took an unconscious Ajmira to the hospital.

When doctors saw Ajmira, she had turned white from loss of blood. “She was given two bottles of blood and operated on early this morning. She is out of danger now,” said Asim Haldar, the superintendent of the Jangipur hospital.

Officials said a cure from quacks is possible by increasing awareness and, of course, improving the health system.

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