Grief, despair at Delhi’s hospitals, a day after

September 14th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) Wailing men and women as well as dazed family members of the seriously injured or missing after a string of bomb attacks besieged hospitals here Sunday, straining the already stretched medical services.Doctors, nurses and attendants worked furiously to provide relief to the seriously and not-so-seriously wounded in Saturday evening’s bombings, but there was no stopping the grief gripping families of the victims.

From a woman who cried inconsolably after being told that her husband had died to an 80-year-old wrinkled woman searching for her son, Delhi’s hospitals were overflowing with anxious people — and despair.

Lakshmi, her head covered with her saree, landed at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital Saturday night, after failing to contact her taxi driver husband Chindra who had gone to Karol Bagh where the deadliest of the five bombs exploded, killing a dozen people almost instantly.

It was the most traumatic night in the life of 50-year-old Lakshmi. Her six-year-old son, Chandra Prakash, unaware of the personal tragedy, clung to her.

Lakshmi was first told that her husband was being treated for wounds in the hospital. That itself was bad news. But when a policeman revealed that he was no more, she broke down and wailed and wailed.

“When my husband did not return till 10.30 (p.m.), I called his mobile. The phone rang and a policeman said he had been injured in a blast and had been hospitalised….

“Why do these things happen to us? Some people do something, and those who take revenge make us innocent people suffer,” Lakshmi told IANS.

The dead man’s brother, Udai Bhan, added: “We are from Rajasthan and have lived in Delhi for 25 years. We had never expected this will happen to us. We have lost everything. My brother is gone.”

There was grief everywhere in the hospital complex. Crowds had gathered outside the mortuary, the Intensive Care Unit and at a small police post. Most people were huddled in small groups, seemingly dazed. A few sat under a leafy tree. Others craned their necks to see the names of the dead and injured on a list pasted on a wall.

Volunteers distributed bread and tea to people — for free. An NGO, Bhai Daya Singh Charitable Foundation, had offered its ambulances to carry the dead for the last rites — also without charge. A group of NCC Cadets queued up to donate blood.

The Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, located in the heart of the city, received 69 victims from Karol Bagh and Connaught Place, which accounted for three of Saturday’s five blasts. This included eight who were brought dead. One man died while being operated upon around midnight.

Three bodies at the mortuary remained unidentified. The identity of three critically injured was also not known, doctors said.

The worst of the trauma was for those whose family members appeared to have simply disappeared after the bombings, blamed on the Islamist terror group Indian Mujahideen.

“My brother-in law Sharanjit Singh left for Karol Bagh Saturday evening and has not returned home since. We are looking everywhere but we have no information about him,” rued Harminder Kaur, 40.

The family had landed at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital after making the rounds of Lady Hardinge hospital, Sir Gangaram hospital and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

A handicapped man, Sharanjit Singh, 44, ran a small shop. His mother Ajit Kaur, 80, showed a wedding photograph to all and sundry, enquiring if anyone had seen Sharanjit.

Equally pathetic is the case of Raju, a 25-year-old who was standing outside his house in Karol Bagh when the bomb went off. Since then, no one has seen him.

Having cried the whole night, his grief-stricken wife, Yashoda, has now been hospitalised, Raju’s brother Shyam told IANS. “The police say they have no information about my brother and that we ourselves should visit every hospital.”

Some relatives complained that they were not being allowed to take the bodies of their kin. Others felt that the injured were not getting enough medical care. A few angry men shouted slogans against the doctors.

The staff at the hospital said they had been working non-stop since they began getting victims of the bomb blasts. Most medical staff had not slept and not gone home during the night.

“We brought our friend here around 7.15 (p.m.) but there is no improvement in his condition,” said Prashant Singh, referring to 21-year-old Shishir Jindal, who was at Connaught Place where a splinter from an exploding bomb breached his spinal cord.

Prashant Singh said the hospital had told him that a neurosurgeon would be available only later in the day.

Said S.K. Sharma, in charge of the emergency ward: “Since night all our five operation theatres and over 100 doctors are working to take care of the patients. People have been admitted with head, cervical and splinter injuries. We have enough resources to take care of them.”

He said 31 people have been discharged. Of the 29 in the hospital, four were in critical condition.

The injured man who died at the hospital at midnight was identified as Amit Saxena, 25, of Kanpur. Said his room mate Pradeep Kumar: “I cannot believe he is no more. He was the only son of his parents. I have informed them. They are on their way to Delhi.”

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