Bankura Deaths Trigger Fresh Corona Debates in West Bengal

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The rigour with which the State Government in West Bengalfiled the case against BJP MP Dr SubhasSarkar establishes the claims of BJP and the other opposition parties in West Bengal that Mamata Banerjee government is trying to cover up the number of COVID 19 deaths in West Bengal


-Suman Bhattacharyya


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Two controversial deaths in Bankura, West Bengal againput the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in loggerheads with the opposition in West Bengal. Dr SubhasSarkar, a practising doctor and LokSabha Parliamentarian from the Bankura constituency raised a finger at the state administration for cremating two dead bodies before the medical reports could confirm their ailments. BadalHansda, resident of a village in Bankura and KishanMandi, an 18-year-old lady from a Purulia village, died on Sunday night, April 12, 2020, at the BankuraSammilani Medical College and Hospital.


They had been admitted to the hospital with high feverand respiratory distress and were shifted to the Fever Isolation Ward of the hospital following further complications. The latter had a record of congenital heart disease. Specimens of their nasal and throat swabs were sent to Kolkata for the testing of COVID 19 on Sunday. Unfortunately, both of them passed awaybefore the results could reach the hospital. Significantly, the test reports have not reached the hospital till Thursday, four days after the samples had been sent for testing.
Even before the reason for their death was confirmed,officials of the Bankura Municipality and local TMC leaders cremated the bodies. Arun Prasad, District Magistrate of Bankura, said therelatives of the deceased had refused to take the bodies back home, upon which the district administration cremated the two corpses. This is where the opposition leaders in the State, including Dr SubhasSarkar, insisted that the cremation was unlawful before the reasons for death were confirmed. The District Magistrate, however, said that the hearse in which the bodies were carried and the crematorium had been disinfected and all people involved inthe process had protective gears on. He also said that five members from each of the two families had been sent for quarantine.

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FIR filed against BJP MP Dr Subhash Sarkar, a qualified doctor himself, from Bankura, for pointing out that people are dying because of Corona and it is not being reported
Dr SubhasSarkar raised his point in a television debate, following which the State Government filed an FIR against him. The rigour with which the State Government in West Bengal filed the case against Dr Sarkar establishes the claims of BJP and the other opposition parties in West Bengal that Mamata Banerjee and her government are trying to cover up the number of COVID 19 deaths in West Bengal. She is neither providing the actual number of thoseafflicted with the disease nor is giving any clue to the death toll resulting from COVID 19. Deaths caused due to COVID 19 are being marked as something else to mislead the public. The allegations are further strengthened by the fact that in cases of such deaths in any part of the State, particularly of patients succumbing to fever and acute respiratory distress, the file of the concerned patient is required to be sent to Nabanna, the headquarters of the governmentin Kolkata. The doctor who has treated the patient has been deprived of the right to issue a death certificate.


The Mamata Banerjee government has decided that an expertcommittee from Nabanna, would examine the case file of the deceased and ascertain the reason for the death. Several associations of doctors have protested against this as a very authoritarian, humiliating and defective step.


The two deaths in the Bankura hospital and the way bodies were disposed of with the reports pending till four days after the death of BadalHansda and KishanMandi; it only establishes the veracity of the claim that Mamata Banerjee is misleading the country on the status of COVID19 in West Bengal.