Accident victims did not get emergency care, say relatives

A mob ransacked two private hospitals — attacking employees and even patients and running riot in the laboratories, pharmacies, blood banks and wards — for allegedly refusing emergency medical care for victims of a road accident here on Tuesday. The attack lasted nearly two hours before the police dispersed the mob with batons and by firing into the air.

Even as authorities denied that treatment was refused, eye-witnesses allege that the violence was precipitated by the hospital demanding payment before treating a 13-year-old boy, Sonai Taropdar, who was seriously injured in the accident.

A head-on collision between a matador carrying pilgrims and a truck left five people dead — according to relatives. Two of them died after being brought to the hospital. The relatives claim that they were denied treatment at the two hospitals.

“These hospitals have killed my nephew,” wailed Anita Sarkar, aunt of Sonai Taropdar, who also lost her father in the accident.

Potted plants were smashed into glass windows and doorways, chairs flung about wildly and notices and signboards smashed and set alight. Frenzied mobs entered intensive care units and wards at about 7 am

Denying that the hospital refused treatment, a spokesperson said: “The child was brought dead, so we asked them to take him away as we could not issue a death certificate. We were in the midst of treating two other injured victims when a mob of about 80 people attacked the hospital.”

It was an orchestrated attack on the hospital. They came armed with iron rods, slings and sharp instruments. The mobs were rushing about the hospital smashing everything on their way. They even pillaged the pharmacy, he added.

“No demands for money were made. I attended to the child, but he was brought dead,” said the doctor who attended Sonai Taropdar at one hospital, where nearly 210 patients were admitted at the time of the attack.

Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader of the State and Minister for Youth Services, Kanti Ganguly, who visited the hospital, said the attack on the hospital was condemnable and if there were lapses, they would be investigated.

On the basis of preliminary reports, it appears that the hospital was also at fault, but what followed later could not be allowed either. The police have been asked to arrest the suspects, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen told journalists at the Secretariat.

Senior Trinamool Congress leaders Mukul Roy and Partha Chatterjee also visited the hospital and said the incident revealed the inefficiency of the State government and the absence of trauma care facilities.