Written by Shriya Dasgupta
As the doctors’ strike entered fifth day in West Bengal, speaking to The Sunday Express, Dr Ruben Basu recounts an incident where he faced a similar attack on September 6 last year and emphasised on why the demand of the doctors about safety is necessary for them to be able to do their job.
“There was a slum opposite my clinic in Taratolla. A young boy was diagnosed with dengue fever and since his condition had become very serious, he was admitted to Arogya Nursing Home, which is located near my clinic, under my supervision. A few days later, he started having some respiratory troubles. I took consent of the boy’s parents and consulted a few other specialists. We found that the boy had some cardiac problem since childhood. That was not in my hands and so I informed the family that the patient needs to be shifted to ICU. They agreed. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest in the ICU. Following this, I started getting threat calls from political leaders and ministers. The parents of the child vanished from the scene. My car was attacked by a mob,” Basu said.
“The child died in the ICU. According to our rules, the RMO issues the death certificate. Suddenly, I got a call from the hospital authorities informing me that the patient’s relatives vandalised the hospital and demanded that I issue the death certificate, mentioning dengue as the reason of death. I, however, refused to go since the patient died of cardiac arrest which is not my specialisation. Then I was told that I will be killed after which I sought police help. The New Alipore Police Station in charge asked me to skip my chamber visits for a few days keeping the current situation in mind. Meanwhile, I was also accused by the media. So, I decided to go back to my chamber and face the situation,” Basu added.
“I went back and was attending to my patients when suddenly a mob barged into my clinic and started damaging everything. The police stood as a dumb spectator. RAF was called from Lal Bazaar. By that time, a 25-year-old woman picked up a shard of glass and attacked me. Thankfully, it only hit my wrist. My wrist tore open and there was enormous bleeding. Physical assault continued.
Simultaneously, a ruckus was created at my home where my 80-year-old mother lived alone. The police couldn’t do a thing. I was shifted to Bangur Hospital where I was given 18 stitches without anaesthesia due to unavailability of an anaesthetist,” Basu said. On asking whether he lodged an FIR against the attackers, Basu said he was asked not to write the names of the women attackers.
“I was even accused of sexual harassment. The miscreants spent one night in lockup and got bail the next day,” he said. “The movement by the doctors is a result of what has been happening over the years. In fact, the entire medical fraternity, including nurses and other staff, needs protection. We need rigid rules to safeguard the doctors. Respect and safety are the primary requirements for anyone to do his duty,” Basu said.
Meanwhile, calls to police officials over the status of Basu’s case yielded no result.
(Shriya Dasgupta is an intern with the The Indian Express)