Home > PG News > Padma Shri among top medics held for AMRI fire, docs furious

Padma Shri among top medics held for AMRI fire, docs furious

January 28, 2012

Two of Kolkata’s best known medical practitioners, 93-year-old Mani Chhetri, a Padma Shri awardee, and Pronab Dasgupta were arrested on Friday for the AMRI Dhakuria fire on December 9 last year that killed 91 people. Both are on the AMRI board of directors. The arrests sparked outrage among the medical fraternity and a stinging rebuke from the Congress.

Chhetri, AMRI Hospitals’ managing director, is a former director of health services. Sixty-five-year-old Dasgupta, a gynaecologist, heads the East Bengal football club and the century-old Bengal Club, and is associated with a string of private hospitals as adviser. They are mentors and teachers to many top names in the medical fraternity. Both of them were picked up from their Ballygunge homes around 8am, brought to Lalbazar and then driven to the Alipore court lock-up around 1.50pm. Chhetri was helped the 10 steps to the lock-up from the police jeep.

Doctors reacted with anger at the arrests, Chhetri’s in particular. “Mani Chhetri is a father figure for doctors in Kolkata. It pains us to see him being put behind bars. Considering his stature and his age, he should not have been arrested just because the post he held makes him accountable. It is indeed shocking,” said S B Purakayastha, CEO, Ruby Hospital.

Congress also criticized the move, although it refused to name anyone. “We are cautioning the government. These arrests are sending a wrong message to the people,” PCC spokesperson Abdul Mannan said.

Alipore chief judicial magistrate Hefazat Karim Chowdhury remanded Chhetri and Dasgupta in police custody till February 2. A battery of defence lawyers – Samaraditya Pal, Bhaskar Sen and S K Kapoor for Chhetri and Tapen Roy Chowdhury and Tamal Mukherjee Dasgupta -put up a spirited defence in a packed courtroom.

Sen argued at 93, there was little chance Chhetri would tamper with evidence or abscond. “He is a well known medical practitioner, has saved many lives. As a doctor he was in charge of treatment, purchase of medical equipment and patients’welfare. He wasn’t aware of what was in the godown (the AMRI basement). I request your lordship to go through his CV. It will give a measure of what kind of person he is. Whenever he was interrogated he participated. The last statement was recorded three weeks back,” Sen said.

Sen wondered why police waited for nearly six weeks to arrest Chetri if his “statements or role were incriminating”. Chetri suffers from blackouts, has high blood pressure and is a cardiac patient. “He is frail and infirm. He needs assistance. He didn’t hide anything and has always helped police,” the senior lawyer said. At this Kapoor added, “Having treated successive chief ministers from S S Ray to the present, and even several chief justices of Calcutta high court, where is the question of his fleeing or tampering with evidence.”

Advertisements
Categories: PG News
%d bloggers like this: