West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was criticised and praised in almost equal measure for her handling of the tragedy at AMRI.
While some criticised her presence at the tragedy site for “adding to the chaos” on Friday, many others conceded that it was departure from the usual practice in West Bengal where politicians are only heard making announcements.
From AMRI to SSKM Hospital, the chief minister was personally at the helm of affairs.
At the hospital, she used a hand held mike to address victims’ relatives. Then she headed towards SSKM Hospital, seven kilometres away.
There, she was seen doing the job of the hospital staff — maintaining records of deaths and interacting with victims’ kin.
“There was utter confusion and I was not sure if I would get my father’s body. But after the CM’s arrival at SSKM, things began to function relatively smoothly and within 15 minutes my father’s body was released," said Pradip Sen. An IPS officer posted at the AMRI Hospital, said, “Around 10.30am, when we were informed that the CM would visit the hospital, there was utter chaos. Our apprehension proved to be correct.”