Eighteen infants died in two days at a hospital in east Kolkata, sparking protests on Thursday by distraught parents who blamed the doctors for negligence.
Aggrieved family members and locals barged into the main building of the hospital, the police said. The agitators also blocked the road before the hospital before being chased away by policemen.
"There were some disturbances in the hospital compound in the morning, but the situation is normal now," said the hospital superintendent D Pal.
Twelve infants died on Wednesday, followed by six more deaths on Thursday. They were all aged between a few days and a few months.
“All the infants were in critical condition when they were admitted. Our doctors and nurses did their best,” said hospital principal Mrinal Chatterjee said.
Pal also confirmed that most of the babies were either pre-mature or suffering from septicaemia or low-birth weight problems when they were brought to the hospital.
The BC Ray Memorial Hospital for Children, a state-run referral hospital, where the deaths happened was in the news in 2002 as well when 22 infants died in a span of 72 hours.
"No doctor or nurse was seen in the general ward where our babies were admitted," said Perveen Samshed, a resident of Gopalnagar in North 24 Parganas, who lost her baby. "My baby was gradually turning blue, but the concerned doctor did not pay any attention despite repeated requests."
Newly-elected chief minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress party, who has made healthcare reform a priority for her government, set up an inquiry committee. She has asked it to submit report within a day.
"No one will be spared if negligence in the treatment of the babies is found," said Banerjee.
Banerjee said she wanted to visit the hospital, but did not do so fearing it might hinder the treatment of the children.
Leader of the opposition Suryakanta Mishra, who was the health minister of the Left Front government during the 2002 tragedy, said the deaths were unfortunate.
Aug 2002: 22 infants died BC Roy Hospital, Kolkata
Nov 2006: 14 babies died at BC Roy Hospital, Kolkata
April 2007: 31 infants died at Sri Avittam Tirunal Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram
April 2011: 8 infants died at the Niloufer Hospital, Hyderabad