Corpse on mobike in Bihar: 2 lowly Purnia hospital staff suspended, cry foul

The process of apportioning responsibility for the June 2 incident wherein denial of a mortuary van by the Purnia sadar hospital, forced labourer Shankar Sah to carry his wife’s corpse on a motorcycle, is still underway.
This image of daily wager Shankar Sah carrying his wife’s corpse on a motorcycle still reverberates in Bihar.(HT file photo)
This image of daily wager Shankar Sah carrying his wife’s corpse on a motorcycle still reverberates in Bihar.(HT file photo)
Updated on Jun 15, 2017 10:01 AM IST
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Hindustan times, Purnia | ByAditya Nath Jha

PURNIA The Purnia civil surgeon has placed under suspension two grade four employees of the sadar hospital and transferred two pharmacists in connection with an incident on June 2, wherein a daily wages labourer carried home the corpse of his wife on a motorcycle after he was denied a mortuary van by the hospital personnel.

Confirming this. Purnia civil surgeon M M Wasim said the four persons attracted action because they knew of the plight of the victim, Shankar Sah, 60, whose wife had died at the hospital, but did not bother to inform the hospital higher authorities.

“The four are guilty of negligence on duty”, said the civil surgeon, who has himself been given a show cause notice about the incident after media images of victim Sah carrying the body of his wife on a motorcycle went viral and caused severe embarrassment to the Bihar government.

The civil surgeon identified the suspended employees as Uday Shankar Paswan and Birendra Kumar Thakur . The transferred pharmacists are Rajeev Kumar and Prabhat Kumar.

The civil surgeon remained tight-lipped over the role of hospital manager Simpi Kumari. “She was in one of the wards when the incident happened”, he said about Kumari, who is alleged to enjoy ‘political patronage’.

Other hospital sources claimed Kumari did not even come out of her chamber, adjacent to emergency ward, where the body of the woman was lying, after its release certificate was issued by the doctor on duty.

The suspended employees said they had been made scapegoats and vowed to move court against their suspension order. Similarly, the transferred pharmacists declared themselves innocent and termed the action against them as “mockery of justice”.

“We are small people. We don’t even come into the picture in matters such as one in hand,” was their argument.

Protests were also in the offing on the government’s earlier decision to suspend Dr S K Verma, the medical officer who was on duty when the incident happened.

Expressing solidarity with Dr S K Verma, the district unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Bihar State Health Services Association (BSHSA), have demanded immediate revocation of suspension of the doctor and threatened of taking to streets if their demand was not met.

“A fact finding team of the BSHSA is reaching Purnia in a couple of days to get a first hand report on the incident. Our exact course of action will be decided on the basis of the team’s report,” said a senior doctor and BSHSA member.   

There is, however, no word on the responses to show-cause notices issued to the civil surgeon, Dr Sushila Das, (deputy superintendent of the hospital), Simpi Kumari (hospital manager) and to Brajesh Kumar Singh (district programme manager).

They were directed to explain the circumstances under which daily wager Shankar Sah was forced to carry the body of his wife on a motorcycle, after she died at the Purnia sadar hospital, on June 2.

A two-member probe team, constituted by the Purnia district magistrate, to investigate the incident has submitted its report but its contents are not known.

“Its contents cannot be revealed said officiating district magistrate (DM) Ram Shankar, adding the report was being forwarded to the state government for suitable action.

An additional DM, Ravindra Kumar, and CS M M Wasim, himself under cloud and facing a show cause notice, comprised the DM appointed probe committee.

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