The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No name, so no chance to live

Nabadwip (Nadia), March 5: A nameless and ailing woman was shooed away from the emergency ward of the state general hospital on February 23.

An agonising 10 days saw her knocking the doors of all the departments of the hospital and die a painful death yesterday.

Deepak Sarkar, who runs a tea stall at the hospital, said the vagrant woman came in a tattered sari and with a wound on her right leg. “I saw her when she arrived but none of us paid any attention as she seemed mentally deranged. We could see from the expression on her face that she was in pain… she was bleeding,” he said.

She could neither tell her name nor where she came from while pleading for help at the hospital.

“We couldn’t take the risk of treating her as we didn’t know who she was or where she came from. It could have landed us in trouble,” hospital superintendent Pabitra Sarkar said today.

One of the doctors gave her an ointment to apply on the wound, Sarkar claimed. “It perhaps did not help her.”

Local residents said the woman, “never seen in the neighbourhood before”, was not treated by the attending doctors and was seen sitting at a corner, tears in her eyes.

“No doctor bothered to take a second look at her, forget giving medicines. For 10 days she loitered on the hospital premises and tottered from one ward to another, pleading with the hospital employees to give her some medicine or food,” Deepak said.

No one obliged her. “On the fourth or the fifth day, she came to my shop and I gave her biscuits and a cup of tea. I didn’t see her after that,” he said.

Manik Debnath, who has been coming to the infectious diseases ward for the past few days to see his sister, said he saw the woman sitting in a corner or the corridor and crying.

That is how she passed away. A stench coming from the corner alerted the relatives of patients this morning.

“It is a natural death and we need not carry out a post-mortem. We informed the Nabadwip municipality so that the body could be disposed of. It is not our responsibility to do so,” Sarkar, the hospital superintendent, said.

The municipality washed its hands of by calling police.

The police called up the hospital to say they did not have a problem if the body was cremated with local help.

The hospital didn’t know how to arrange that.

A local rickshaw-puller, Shankar Maiti, and Debnath raised funds to perform her last rites as the authorities looked the other way.

“We raised Rs 200. Many ordinary people came forward to help,” Debnath said.

At least some of the dignity that the nameless woman had been robbed of in life was restored to her in death.

She was cremated at the Nabadwip crematorium like those who can tell their name and address to the babus.

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