Worried about the apparently unheard-before shocking incident making headlines, Nabanna has asked the district health administration to submit the report as soon as possible.
A three-day-old baby boy was allegedly stolen from the gynecology and obstetrics ward of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Siliguri by an unidentified woman. The woman tricked the new mother into handing her baby to her by showing serious security concerns, sources said.
Hospital sources said the 24-year-old resident of Bhogbhita in Batasi near Siliguri, Ranjita Singha, had given birth to the baby at the Kharibari hospital on Tuesday, but she was referred to the NBMCH after she suffered postpartum hemorrhage on Wednesday morning.
Defunct CCTV cameras inside the ward failed to capture the image of the accused woman. However, a camera installed outside zoomed in on her getting into an e-rickshaw.
“She had been admitted to the gynecology and obstetrics ward with the baby in the wee hours of Wednesday. A woman met her and tried to win her confidence. She asked my wife to have lunch and she said that she would take care of the baby. As she focused on lunch, the baby was stolen. Within a few minutes, she did not find either the baby or the woman. We do not know how she came to the ward during visiting hours,” said Nityananda Singha, the husband of Mrs Singha.
Mr Singha has filed a police complaint against the NBMCH authorities for their alleged negligence.
The incident occurred at 12.30 pm, it is learnt.
Many family members of patients blamed the NBMCH authorities for their lackadaisical attitude towards ensuring security of patients in the wards.
“I do not know the woman, who looks to be in her mid 40s. She came into the ward yesterday and started talking to us. We failed to judge her intentions. She requested me to have lunch during visiting hours and said she would handle my son. I completely trusted her but within a few minutes I did not find them,” said Mrs Singha, crying inconsolably.
As news spread, NBMCH superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik, assistant superintendents, police and other officials rushed to the ward to examine the CCTV camera footage.
“In a matter of serious concern, CCTV cameras in the ward are not working properly for the past few days. The wires have snapped. Therefore, it could not record the footage of the accused person. However, a camera set up outside has recorded a woman getting into an e-rickshaw with something,” a source said. Police have now quizzed the e-rickshaw operator, who said he dropped the woman at Kawakhali, some distance away from the NBMCH. Police sources said the woman then got into a van.
Mr Singha, a mason by profession, alleged lapses on the part of the NBMCH authorities. “The CCTV cameras did not work, and security guards at the gate did not stop the woman. How could anyone come inside and steal a baby?” he said.
Family members can meet patients thrice a day – 7-8 am, 12-1pm and 5-6 pm in the ward. It may be recalled here that a woman had lifted a five-year-old baby girl from the corridor of the NBMCH on 28 September last year. The Bihar girl had been sleeping in the corridor with her parents. Police, however, rescued her and arrested the accused woman, Suman Sahani, on 1 October.
Authorities said that according to the system, the patients are only allowed to go from the gate after showing the discharge papers. But the problem remains that there are multiple exit points and all are not manned.
NBMCH authorities have set up an inquiry committee. The five-member committee is headed by the HOD of Gynecology and Obstetrics, NBMCH.
“We are looking into all the issues, including the status of CCTV cameras and security. We have set up an inquiry committee. It will submit its report at the earliest, and if anyone is found responsible, the accountability will be ascertained. It will be a matter of investigation as to how she was allowed to go when it is necessary to show the discharge certificates,” said NBMCH superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik.
The NBMCH has also lodged a police complaint. Police officers, on the other hand, said they were conducting raids in search of the accused woman.
According to doctors, a huge number of patients are admitted in the ward, even as two mothers would share a single bed.
NBMCH Patient Welfare Committee chairman Gautam Deb said an inquiry has started and that he has talked to the Siliguri Police Commissioner about it.
Meanwhile, a mother and her child suffering from cyanotic heart disease remained untraceable from the paediatric ward today.
The youth wing of the BJP staged an agitation at the NBMCH to protest the incident today, while the protesters also blocked the car of the NBMCH Superintendent for a while.