Kolkata: Police Sunday
grilled the six arrested AMRI hospital directors as the death toll
in Friday's fire at the high-cost medical facility in south
Kolkata went up to 93. Protests against the hospital authorities
and candlelight vigils for the dead continued for the second day.
Advanced Medicare & Research Institute (AMRI) directors, including
Shrachi Group chairman S.K. Todi and his counterpart in the Emami
Group R.S. Goenka, charged with culpable homicide and now lodged
in the Lalbazar police lock up after their arrest Friday, were
being interrogated through the day to ascertain the "lapses" and
"irregularities" in the hospital, said a police officer.
A lower court Saturday remanded the directors to police custody
for ten days. Apart from them, another director R.S. Agarwal is
now admitted to a private hospital, where he is placed under
Two patients - a police constable and a female patient - who were
evacuated to two different hospitals after the fire tragedy, died
Sunday. The death count was now 93, comprising 91 patients and two
There was tension Sunday at the hospital's desolate Annexe 1
block, where the blaze early Friday had choked to death mostly
infirm patients - many of them in their sleep - and two nurses, as
fumes again billowed out from the basement, said to be the source
of the killer fire.
"Such an occurring is normal in case of major fires. We were
informed about the smoke coming out and sent an engine which
doused the flames," said a fireman.
Forensic experts sent to the spot to collect samples, could not do
their work as the basement was flooded. They will again go to the
hospital Monday, a source said.
The main building of the hospital was still functioning, though
most of the patients have been transferred to other city
Meanwhile, the people's anger continued to rise with protestors
putting up posters in the hospital premises demanding exemplary
punishment for its officials.
Local residents also demanded that a playground "snatched
forcibly" for a park maintained by the medical facility adjacent
to the AMRI hospital be returned.
"The hospital, using police force, snatched the land. We want back
this land which was a playground for us," read some posters put up
by some residents of Panchanantala in South Kolkata's Dhakuria
where the hospital is located.
An AMRI spokesman, however, said the land belonged to the Kolkata
Municipal Corporation. "We don't own the land. We have just
beautified it and we maintain it round the year. So if they want
back the land they should talk to the civic body."
Several political parties, including the Socialist Unity Centre of
India-Communist (SUCI-C), pasted posters on the hospital walls
demanding exemplary punishment for the wrongdoers along with
scrapping the private-public partnership (PPP) model hospitals.
People from all walks of life including film personalities took
out a candlelight march to pay tribute to the victims.
Hundreds of men, women and children marched silently holding
candles in their hand marched from near the hospital to the nearby
Golpark Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would participate in a peace march
Monday starting from the M.P. Birla planetarium which will
culminate at the Gandhi statute in the Maidan area.
Banerjee has also appealed to the people at large to join in the
march in memory of the victims.
The pre-dawn blaze at 3.30 a.m. in the hospital -- co-founded by
the Emami and Shrachi Groups along with the state government in
1996 - led to the death of critically ill patients, while most
nurses, doctors and other staffers were able to get away.