Narendra Modi’s first routine heart and eye check-up as Prime Minister at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Sunday left hundreds of patients and their attendants fuming as his security enforced an unprecedented clampdown.
The PM’s special security and the Delhi Police’s security wing cordoned off a major section of India's premier government hospital at 5am. Modi, 63, arrived for his check-up at 8.30am.
Security personnel swarmed AIIMS and Ansari Nagar and shut down all shops including chemists. The hospital looked abandoned but the chemist store inside was open.
A doctor who did not want to be named told HT, “Patients with appointments and patients without identity cards were not allowed to enter the eye and heart centres. Even staff was not allowed inside till 8am. They were finally allowed in only after extensive frisking. It has never happened before.”
Patients who were coming to the hospital’s RP Eye Centre and Cardio-Neuro Sciences Centre were not allowed inside even though they were called for a follow-up.
Lifts and escalators around the hospital and AIIMS Metro station were closed, inconveniencing commuters and patients.
“My mother (a patient) can’t walk properly, much less climb stairs. She was feeling sick while coming out of the metro station because she had to climb stairs. It’s a good number of stairs at the AIIMS exit,” said Pratap Singh.
Narayani Devi, 32, who had come from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, with her husband for a follow-up, was upset over the unexpected security clampdown.
“Nobody informed us about the delay. We were given appointment for 9am but these security people said come after an hour. Doesn’t the PM know how difficult it is to get a date in AIIMS? God knows when I will get the next date,” she said.
Mohammad Rizwan (name changed), whose father is admitted in the hospital, complained about his children going without breakfast. “They are not letting us bring food inside. We asked them to frisk us and check the tiffin but they didn’t allow us in. We have small kids with us who are hungry. All the shops are also shut,” he said.
A woman in her 70s pleaded with a security official outside the eye centre, “Bhaiyya main aatankwadi nahi hoon; aap check kar lo. Maine doctor ko dikhana hai, main takleef mein hoon (I’m not a terrorist, you may frisk me. I have to see a doctor, I’m in great pain).” The official politely asked her to wait.
Patients showed little interest in catching a glimpse of the PM, being more keen on knowing when he would leave.
The security pressure eased around 11.30am.
The PM left AIIMS at 1.45pm. He underwent preventive tests including an ECG, echocardiogram, refraction and eye pressure measurement.
According to hospital sources, the reports were mostly normal, but it will take a couple of days for all the test results to come.