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AIIMS clone boon for Bangla patients

Balurghat, Feb. 10: The Centre’s decision to set up an AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj has not only made north Bengal proud but also the neighbouring country Bangladesh happy.

The news has come as a relief to many Bangladeshis who often cross the border for specialised treatment in India.

During the Partition, Dinajpur district had been divided. The eastern part went with East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, while the other half remained with India as West Dinajpur. On April 1, 1992 West Dinajpur had been bifurcated into South and North Dinajpur districts. But that did not stand in the way of relationship between the people of the two countries.

So when Shyamal Bhattacharya, a retired teacher of Bagura High School at Jalpeswaritala in Bangladesh, came to know about the Centre’s decision, his joy knew no bounds. “Nothing can be better for us than this,” he told the correspondent here over the phone.

Bhattacharya, who had taken part in the liberation movement, said: “We often visit Siliguri, Calcutta, Chennai, Vellore and Bangalore for treatment. There is nothing like it if a hospital of the highest order is set up at Raiganj.” Treatment in Bengal will be easier and cheaper compared to other cities in India, he added.

Like Bhattacharya, Saahid Mamun, a writer who lives in Naogaon’s Pouro Bazar, has been praying for early setting up of the health facility. “I want it to be opened before the scheduled time,” he said.

Bijju Agarwal, a cloth merchant of Dinajpur in Bangladesh, appeared happy. “If the hospital comes up in Raiganj, which was part of undivided Dinajpur, we should not feel that we are going to a foreign country for treatment,” he said.

According to the immigration office at Hili check post, most of the Bangladeshis visit India for medical treatment. Healthcare facilities in the country are of inferior quality and costly, sources said.

In January 25, 2007 The Telegraph had published a report on 47-year-old Altab Hussain who had breached the border in the hope that he would be sent to jail and subsequently to hospital for treatment. Since he was not arrested at the border, Hussain surrendered before the Balurghat police station and had been sent to the district hospital here for an ailing heart.

“Doctors at the Dinajpur district hospital in Bangladesh had referred me to Dhaka Medical College. But there, I would have had to shell out Taka 2 lakh (nearly Rs 1.3 lakh). I am a fish trader and can’t afford to spend so much. So I decided to go back to an Indian jail,” Hussain had said.

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