New bug-free clothes appeared on the bodies of inmates of Berhampore mental hospital on Wednesday and they got a better meal than the one they are served every day. After HT reported about the pathetic state of affairs at the hospital, the authorities moved on Wednesday to ensure a quick reversal of the pathetic conditions the inmates were kept. The asylum authorities also strung a volleyball net on a piece of unkempt green in the campus, ostensibly to prove that the inmates are in cheerful spirits to enjoy an occasional game or two.
Just a day ago HT reported how the inmates had to go without clothes as these were not fumigated for months and were full of bugs. The toilets in the home, about 200 kms to the north of Kolkata, were also too dirty to use.
Workers of Anjali, an NGO, that paid the inmates a visit on Independence Day eve, found the sorry state of affairs and posted pictures on social media platforms and tagged Prime MInister Narendra Modi, union health minister J P Nadda and chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
“The 60-odd patients living naked for several days got new clothes early in the morning on Wednesday, when the news broke that government officials will pay a visit. The female inmates were given blouse and petticoat, while the males got a pair of pajamas,” a source at the hospital told HT.
Meanwhile, sources in the health department claimed that Sashi Panja, minister of state for health, took note of the allegations and contacted members of Anjali, the NGO that exposed the sorry state of the hospital, and sought a detailed report from them about their experience.
Members of the NGO, however, consider the Wednesday action of the hospital authorities as a means to ‘cover up’ their misdeeds. The volleyball net, they said, was purchased long ago but had been kept in the locker and was brought out of Wednesday to portray a different picture of the asylum.
“Because of media surge, bahrampr mental hosp super tries to ‘cover up’. Where is empathy? Sack him,” reads a post from the twitter handle of the NGO. The post accompanies the photo of a patient who was covered with a new piece of cloth.
The members had found on August 14 that as many as 65 inmates at the hospital, including women, were kept naked. The patients had told them that they preferred to stay naked because the clothes were full of lice and bugs. When asked, hospital authorities had allegedly came up with flimsy excuses.Canadian spends 2 weeks in Bengal mental hospital, bureaucracy blamed
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When HT tried to contact the hospital super, Pabitra Sarkar, and chief medical officer of health, Subhasis Saha, both refused to comment. Sources, however, claimed that state health department officials had contacted Sarkar and directed him to improve the situation urgently.
“The state of this hospital is particularly pathetic because it is located more than 200 kilometres away from Kolkata. As a result health department officials pay visits less frequently. To add to this, the superintendent is completely insensitive to the wellbeing of the patients,” remarked Aditi Basu, a member of Anjali.