Hospital head suspended

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  • Published 27.05.11

Calcutta, May 26: The director of the Bangur Institute of Neurosciences was suspended late tonight under instructions from chief minister Mamata Banerjee for alleged “misconduct and insubordination”.

Hours before, neurosurgeon Shyamapada Ghorai had told Mamata that the trail of people following her during a surprise check was inconveniencing patients. Ghorai had several critical surgeries lined up for Friday, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he could still conduct them.

The Telegraph was present when the chief minister, on her way to Writers’ Buildings, stopped her car in front of the Bangur Institute of Neurosciences on Sambhunath Pandit Street in south Calcutta.


Mamata, who also holds the health portfolio, enters the hospital at 11.47am. She stops in front of the radiology department on the ground floor. Two patients are on stretchers.

Mamata: What happened? Why are you here? Aren’t they treating you?

A patient’s relative: We are here for an MRI.

Mamata: OK.

She opens the swing door and strides into the radiology department’s “imaging unit”. Around seven employees, including at least one doctor, are inside.

Mamata: What is done in this room?

A doctor: Ma’am, we do MRI.

Mamata: I hope you don’t face problems at work.

Doctor: No, Ma’am, things are fine over here.

Mamata: Do all these machines work properly?

Doctor: Yes, Ma’am, most of them. A few of them may have some problems.

Mamata: What sort of problems? How many machines have such problems?

The employees do not reply.

By then, informed by one of the employees, institute director Ghorai walks up in haste. An official introduces Ghorai to the chief minister.

Ghorai folds his hands in a namaskar and Mamata reciprocates.

Mamata: How many faulty machines do we have here?

Ghorai: I can’t say. There are some.

Mamata: How many machines are here and what are they for?

Ghorai: It’s difficult to say. There are quite a few.

Mamata: Meet me tomorrow with a detailed report of all the machines over here, their present condition and the number of faulty instruments.

Ghorai: Let’s see if I can manage. I have a few operations tomorrow. (He conducts operations on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

The chief minister looks angry. She storms out and the staff follow. So does Ghorai.

Mamata meets some patients from the outdoor section who bombard her with complaints.

“Didi, we don’t have drinking water.”

“Didi, the gates are shut most of the time, preventing the patients’ entry.”

“Didi, there are not enough doctors and they keep us waiting for hours.”

“Didi, the doctors at the outdoor department never turn up on time.”

The chief minister takes notes in a small diary.

A patient’s family begs Mamata for admission. She turns to a hospital official and says: “See what he has to say.”

She asks some of the staff: “What are your problems?

They call director Ghorai, standing at a distance.

Ghorai (with folded hands): Ekhane ki ebhabe katha bola jai? Aapnar shathe ato lok, ato TV camera, era shob patient-der opor haamle porchhe, odero oshubidha hochchhe (is it possible to speak with so many people and TV cameras around? They are walking all over the patients and causing inconvenience).

Mamata (raising her voice): What is your problem if there are so many people here? I haven’t brought the media with me…. They move about with me because they love me. But you seem to have a problem with the media coming to your hospital.

She pauses for a moment. Ghorai gestures to suggest she is getting him wrong, folds his hands and is about to say something.

Mamata: Seems like you are afraid that if the media come here, you and your acts will be exposed. You have already been exposed. You don’t know etiquette… how to behave with people. I don’t want to speak to you any more. You meet me tomorrow, I will take a decision.

She turns back. On her way out, she pauses beside the two patients on stretchers.

“Did any of the media people disturb you?” she asks.

“No,” says one.

Mamata advances a few paces and mumbles: “Shob shomoy amaar naame dosh chapiye deoa (the blame is always pinned on me).”

12.02pm: Mamata’s black Santro leaves for Writers’.