West Bengal CID sleuths on Sunday detained one person as they took over the probe into the fire that left two dead and seven injured at a state-run medical college in Murshidabad district.
A CID team, led by its Deputy Inspector General B.L. Meena visited the Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital in Baharampur and spoke to the doctors, nursing and other staff, patients and eye-witnesses.
Hours after Saturday’s tragedy, the government ordered the CID to look into the possibility of sabotage.
“We have to see how it happened, whether there was any sabotage. We have come to see things first hand. We will review all the findings,” said Meena.
A forensic team also visited the hospital and collected samples.
Meanwhile, an employee of the Baharampur municipality has been detained for questioning by the sleuths. Said to be a Congress worker, the detained person was associated with the patient welfare wing of the hospital.
On the other hand, the chairperson of the West Bengal Medical Services Corporation, Chandrima Bhattacharya, who reached the hospital on Saturday night, termed the incident as a “conspiracy to malign” the state government.
“(Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is doing very good work. A lot of things are being done in the health sector. So to malign her, there was a conspiracy. The fire is the result of this,” she claimed.
Bhattacharya said it was untrue to say that the hospital did not have a fire fighting mechanism.
“But somebody seems to have conspired to make it inoperative. This is our preliminary assessment. Now the CID will look into this aspect.”
On Saturday, State Director of Health Services B.R. Satpathy had said the fire began from an air conditioning machine in the VIP cabin of the male medical ward on the first floor. The room is kept ready for dealing with any medical emergency during visits by high-profile figures like the President.
While two women – an attendant and a patient’s relative – died in the stampede triggered by the fire, horrific video footage of an ailing newborn sustaining serious injuries on being thrown away by a relative in a desperate bid to save the baby’s life went viral.
Unofficial reports have claimed that a child was also killed during the stampede. But the government has maintained the death was not connected to the fire.
The Congress has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
“When there was a fire at a private hospital five years back, the directors were arrested. So why haven’t the hospital officials been taken behind bars?
“Why has the CID been entrusted with the probe? Respected chief minister, if you have the guts, accept our challenge, and ask for a CBI inquiry,” said former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya.