A surprise visit by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the AMRI Hospitals, Dhakuria — the site of last week's devastating fire — resulted in commotion here on Tuesday, following protests by angry employees over the government's decision to revoke the licence of the hospital.
Ms. Banerjee arrived at the hospital a little before noon. She first visited the ravaged wing of the hospital where the fire broke out on December 9 and then visited the main wing, where a few patients are still admitted. “I came looking for a patient, I have found him,” she told journalists later.
She was speaking to the patients when the employees started protesting saying that they might lose their jobs. This was followed by a heated exchange of words between the employees and Ms. Banerjee. Leaders of the Trinamool Congress later alleged that the employees used foul language while speaking to her.
“Aren't you ashamed? So many people were killed,” Ms. Banerjee told them adding that it was the responsibility of the management of the hospital to absorb the staff of the now sealed hospital into other facilities that it runs.
As Ms. Banerjee left, protesters went on a rampage first attacking the journalists reporting from the hospital and then holding up traffic on the Gariahat Road, on which the hospital is located. Soon after, local residents reached the hospital premises smashing glass panes and windows and charging at the employees in retaliation.
“Not even a week has passed and these employees can only think of their jobs,” said Tarak Mondal, who lives nearby.
Ms. Banerjee alleged that the employees had been “provoked” to organise the protests by the hospital management. “The management will have to accommodate these people. I do not want anyone to lose their job,” she said later.
2 AMRI officials held
The city police have arrested two senior officials of the AMRI Hospitals, Dhakuria, where a massive fire last week claimed 93 lives. They were remanded in police custody for 10 days by a court here on Tuesday.
They are S. Upadhyay, senior vice-president of AMRI Hospitals and vice-president of projects and the chairman of the safety committee, and Sanjeev Pal, AGM (Maintenance), who personally signed the September 5 hospital affidavit, giving an assurance that the fire brigade's recommendations would be complied with within 90 days.