On Monday, even as flames leapt out from SSKM’s Ronald Ross ward and the sky was thick with black smoke, Kolkata unveiled its humane face that it is known for.
Students, teachers and employees of Gokhale Memorial Girls School, located bang opposite the SSKM Hospital where a fire broke out on Monday morning, came forward to provide shelter and guard the privacy of a group of mothers who panicked and ran across the street clutching their newborns.
“It was a purely humanitarian effort that anybody else in our place would have done. We tried to ensure that none went close to the babies as some of them were even less than a day old,” said Indrani Mitra, principal of the school.
On Monday, about 20 women were not only provided shelter inside the school premises but also shielded from possible infection as the fire raged inside the hospital.
“Two of our former students who are now studying in first year of the college first saw smoke billowing out of a floor of a building in the SSKM campus. They stepped out and saw a few young women running across the street clutching their newborns,” said Joydeb Das, an office assistant of the principal.
The mothers rushed out of the gate leading to the emergency department that is bang opposite the school. “The students immediately reported the matter to the principal who rushed out. A few guardians were also standing there. They all guided the mothers carrying the babies inside the school premises,” Das added. The mothers were also offered biscuits and water.
The authorities did not allow any inquisitive student to go near the babies as most of them were just a few hours old and extremely vulnerable to infections. “After about an hour, a senior official of SSKM Hospital came to the school, put them in an ambulance and sent the mothers back to the ward,” Mitra said.