Mamata takes charge

December 10th, 2011 - 12:17 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Dec 9 (IANS) From supervising rescue work to consoling the grieving, from taking administrative action against the guilty to assisting the officials in completing procedural formalities, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Friday stood firm beside the grieving families of the victims of the AMRI Hospital fire tragedy here.

Hours after the fire broke out, Banerjee was at the ill-fated hospital Friday morning, though her presence initially led to chaos. Family members of the patients and onlookers lunged towards her creating a stampede like situation, which prompted the police to take action.

“This is not a time for lathi (baton) charge. Is this a place for fighting?” thundered Banerjee at the officers and in the same breath urged the people to stay calm and not to hinder rescue work. Holding a mike, she also assured action against the guilty.

“It is a criminal offence. So many people have been killed. The hospital authorities are not only guilty of negligence but also of killing the people. Their licence will be cancelled and the guilty will be arrested,” assured Banerjee.

However, Banerjee was not welcomed by many who considered her presence at the hospital more of a hindrance in the rescue work. “Because Mamata is here, the ambulances cannot go towards the annexe building. Please ask her to shift to another road,” shouted a distraught relative of a victim.

After supervising the rescue work, she later visited several hospitals where the rescued patients were subsequently admitted and ensured they were given proper treatment.

Later in the day, she sat at the SSKM Hospital in the city where the bodies were brought for post-mortem examinations, and after identification were handed over to the families.

Banerjee not only consoled the grieving families but also kept on commanding and urging the hospital authorities to expedite the procedural formalities.

“Please complete the post-mortem at the earliest and get the formalities completed soon,” Banerjee said repeatedly over a microphone to the officials concerned.

A woman after seeing the body of her son broke down inconsolably before Banerjee, who lifted her up and said soothing words to calm down the grieving mother.

She also kept on urging mediapersons and other people who surrounded the area near the morgue to make way for the ambulances that were carrying in the bodies brought out from the ill-fated hospital.

Along with announcing a compensation of Rs.300,000 each to families of the victims and Rs.10,000 each for the final rites, Banerjee said the government will arrange for railway and airway conveyance for the families to transport the bodies to distant places.

In the worst fire tragedy in any hospital in India, 88 patients and staffers were killed in the city’s AMRI Hospital when a blaze engulfed its annexe building early Friday, trapping dozens of helpless patients while doctors and others fled to safety.

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