Alipurduar: Ransack, roadblocks to protest Covid vaccine shortage
A rural hospital was ransacked and blockades were raised at two different locations in Alipurduar district on Thursday because of dearth of Covid-19 vaccines.
Around 3am, over 200 people walked up to Bhatibari rural hospital in Alipurduar 2 block and stood in a queue to get the first dose of the vaccine. Sources said the people stood at the rural hospital for hours, braving the incessant rain.
“We waited for almost seven hours. Around 10am, we were told that none would get the vaccines today (Thursday). On Wednesday, local health workers had informed the residents that first dose would be available for 200 people on a first come, first served basis,” said Tapash Dutta, a local resident.
A section of people in the queue got agitated and ransacked furniture at the hospital. They also raised a blockade on the road connecting Bhatibari with Tufanganj.
Later, block health officials and a team from Samuktala police station went to the spot and managed to clear the road after an hour.
A similar protest was witnessed at Jateswar in Falakata block also.
Around 300 people, mostly migrant workers who had returned home during the lockdown, went to a local vaccination camp on Thursday morning to get their first jab.
“After standing in the queue for around three hours, we were told by the on-duty health staff that people whose second doses were due would be jabbed first. This is disappointing. Many migrant workers like me are planning to return to their workplace and have even booked train tickets. But because of the shortage of vaccines, we are getting delayed,” said Sukanta Barman, a local youth who used to work in Kerala.
“On one hand, we don’t have enough money left to run the families, on the other hand, we cannot leave without getting vaccinated,” he added.
Soon, a section of the migrant workers started a demonstration and raised a blockade on NH31 in Jateswar. After an hour, police could persuade them to disperse.
District health officials admitted that there was a shortage of vaccines.
“We have received instructions to concentrate more in administering the second dose with the available stock. But today, no vaccination camp was planned at the rural hospital in Bhatibari where people came and stood in queues. They should have verified with the hospital staff,” said Girish Chandra Bera, the chief medical officer of health of Alipurduar.
The district health department has ordered an inquiry to find out who all were involved in ransacking the furniture at the hospital, he said.