The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 21 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Docs, cops skirt duty

Time: Monday, 8pm

Location: Emergency ward of Patna Medical College and Hospital

Scene: Seven bodies lie beneath the staircase of the ward. People scream for help. Injured bleed, some profusely. More bodies arrive

Chaos and mismanagement ruled the emergency ward of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) on Monday evening, as the bodies of the Adalat Ghat stampede victims trickled in.

Chhath being a public holiday, there were few senior doctors and paramedical staff at the state-run hospital. To make matters worse, those present hesitated to come forward to assist the injured apprehending trouble, as a crowd had assembled outside.

Irked over the delay in medical assistance, the attendants of the injured lost patience and tried to assault some doctors. Soon, the doctors escaped through the backdoor.

When it became clear that no medical assistance was in sight, people started taking their injured relatives to other hospitals. Private vehicles and ambulances were pressed into service. Those who were critically injured were rushed to the nearby private hospitals.

The people who gathered outside PMCH soon turned violent. They smashed windowpanes and damaged the iron gate of the ward. Smashed glasses on the floor reflected the extent of damage caused to the hospital.

City superintendent of police (SP) Jayantkant tried to control the crowd but they were in no mood to relent.

Minutes later, director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand reached the spot with a large number of police personnel. Almost immediately, a section of the crowd started shouting slogans against the DGP and the state police. “Go back police” screams reverberated on the PMCH premises.

When the crowd count kept rising, the police resorted to forceful evacuation around 11.30pm. Agitated further by the police action, the mob started pelting stones. By 12midnight, the entire hospital turned into a fortress.

Mahesh Prasad, whose sister was injured in the stampede, said: “I am waiting for doctors for the past 10 minutes but there has been no medical assistance.”

Doctors said they could not work because the crowd that had gathered on the premises went berserk. “People started damaging hospital property. The police refused to come forward and help us. We had no other option but to escape,” a senior PMCH doctor said.

The senior doctors came out only after principal secretary of health department Vyasji came to the hospital around 9.30pm. The medics criticised Abhayanand for not doing enough.

“The DGP did virtually nothing to pacify the people and left the spot leaving us at the mercy of the mob. The people were pacified, thanks to the principal secretary,” said a doctor. Vyasji confirmed the death of 17 persons, including nine children. “Patna civil surgeon has been directed to locate the injured, being treated in different hospitals. The government has decided to bear the cost of their treatment,” he said.