Some employees of AMRI hospital, where a devastating fire left 93 patients and staffers dead, held a demonstration when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee paid a surprise visit on Tuesday and urged her not to cancel the hospital's licence as they would lose their jobs.
However, an angry chief minister ticked off the protesters, asking what the hospital had done to save its patients who suffocated to death. After she left, the employees vented their anger on the media and beat up an electronic media journalist. Two people were arrested.
The chief minister visited the hospital in Dhakuria to enquire about a missing patient following Friday’s devastating fire.
Raising their voices, the staff told the chief minister to be soft on the hospital and not cancel its licence as they would lose their jobs.
Banerjee, who came unannounced to the main building of the hospital, asked the management not to admit any more patients. Seven patients were still under treatment in the building close to the Annexe 1 block where the fire tragedy took place last Friday. The Annexe 1 building has since been sealed and its licence cancelled by the authorities.
The staff also handed over to the chief minister a memorandum with signatures of patients who said they wanted to be treated in the hospital’s Dhakuria unit.
An incensed chief minister wondered whether the staff had any regret for the death of 93 people. "What did you do to save the people? So many people have died. Don’t create hurdles in the way of justice. Allow us to ensure justice. Then you will also get justice."
Banerjee told the protestors that the hospital management has to own up responsibility.
Coming out of the building, she alleged that the hospital management had instigated the staff. "They (the management) have made them (the employees) say this."
"What can I do? So many people have died," she told media when they sought her reaction on the employees’ resentment.
Later, speaking at an official function, Banerjee said the management has to accommodate all the employees.
The AMRI group has two other hospitals and the authorities have reportedly sent a message to the management that the employees of the Dhakuria facility should be transferred there.
Banerjee said she found seven patients. "Only one of them is on ventilator. The rest can be shifted. I also told them not to admit any more patients."