Home > Press Clippings > How we lied to see the truth – Calcutta Times

How we lied to see the truth – Calcutta Times

Times News Network, Calcutta Oct 22, 2002

Perplexed by reports of child deaths at the BC Roy Memorial Hospital, four young students — Namit Agarwal, Barkha Sharda, Shayoni Sarkar and Uttaran Das Gupta — hid their identities to check out the ground realities on September 14. Here goes Namit’s account.
The environment around the hospital was grey. Shayoni called herself Jhumki and Uttaran, Raja and entered the hospital as villagers. We knew the authorities had banned the entry of media personnels within the hospital premises. Near the main gate a few policemen were stationed. However, they didn’t bother to check our identities.
With a crumbling boundary, the compound was free passage for stray dogs and any passerby. The centre of the compound housed an ill-maintained garden with a circular pavement around it, which the relatives of the patients used as a place to sit and relax. We waited for an opportunity to interact with them. The first opportunity came our way when the parents of nine-month-old Bula Roy confided in us, “No one in the city cares about the welfare of us villagers.
We have no other choice but to admit our infants here in spite of whatever is happening. We are even more concerned since three infants died yesterday.” For those who didn’t find place on the pavement, they made themselves comfortable under a dilapidated portico. We were shocked to hear that most of the parents had no idea about what disease their children were suffering from. Meanwhile, Barkha and I approached the main gate as officers from a false NGO Smriti Seva Pratisthan. Barkha had managed to smuggle in a camera underneath her clothes.
We entered the pediatric ward which was empty except for a stray dog. The walls were stained with betel leaf spits and the doors and locks were rusted. Then we went to meet the ward officer. We showed him our fake letter stating fund raising purposes and asked for permission to see the superintendent. Pretending that we were on our way to meet the super, we actually turned to the staircase leading to the ward. On the first floor the scene was bad. Oxygen cylinders, used bandages, and blood stained cotton lay around on the watery floor. Walking into the wards revealed an even more grey picture.
For one, there were no doctors or nurses attending to the patients. The window panes were broken thus making it easy for sunlight, or rainwater to pour in any time of the day. The beds were rusted and squeaky, and the rusted fans hardly moved. The parents of the children seemed to be spending most of their time in the wards as we found wet clothes on lines across the rooms, and food items and blankets piled up in every possible corner. Each of the beds were being shared by at least three children. The parents themselves were guarding the doors of the ward with no one from the hospital around.
The condition on the second floor was much better with a few nurses and one or two doctors around though the corridors were as unclean as the rest of the hospital. The biggest shock came when we climbed up to the terrace and saw six children lying on broken beds with the sky as their roof. Neither hospital authorities nor parents were with them. We came back from there with heavy hearts but with our curiosity satiated. Can’t the health department of the government see what we could?

This article can be accessed at: http://maillogout.indiatimes.com/calcutta-times/How-we-lied-to-see-the-truth/articleshow/25988374.cms

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