Two staff nurses tried to be everywhere at once, and fix too many broken people. They struggled to keep track as the IV fluid ran out, and had to pacify angry crowds. Two of their colleagues were on duty in the labour room and the operation theatre, where the only doctor for the night was stationed.
This was Dumka, the sub-capital of Jharkhand, the assembly constituency of the chief minister, whose voters sent his father — a three-time chief minister — to the Lok Sabha seven times.Dumka
Here, on Thursday night, at the end of a polling day on which violence was widely anticipated, two nurses with the bare essential equipment were tasked with patching up 10 badly injured men, and sending them to hospitals five to eight hours’ drive away.
“Still, today is better, there are four of us instead of the usual three,” one of the nurses said.
The number of politicians who turned up at the Sadar Hospital after the Maoist attack that killed five policemen and three poll officials was, expectedly, more than the number of nurses.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, former chief minister and sitting Kodarma MP Babulal Marandi — now the JVM(P) candidate from Dumka — and BJP candidate Sunil Soren showed up and, seeing the crowd’s mood, hastily retreated. But the man the crowd really wanted to confront never showed up.
“Shibu Soren kahan hai?” they demanded again and again during the impatient wait for the sitting MP. At midnight, a group, worried that the IV fluid drip for the driver of the Tata Magic, one of the two vehicles attacked, may not last the journey to Dhanbad, barged into the hospital, seeking an answer from Shibu Soren.
Shibu Soren finally showed himself on Friday morning, at a ceremony organised at the Police Lines to pay tribute to the dead policemen. He came around 11.30 am, accompanied by his chief minister son. He was late. “You must not make the dead wait,” a CRPF officer said angrily.
Dumka, Deoghar and Pakur were added to the union home ministry’s scheme for LWE areas only in April 2012. Sahibganj, Godda and Jamtara, three other districts that make up Santhal Pargana, are not considered LWE-hit.
Thursday’s attack was the second major Naxal strike in the six-district Santhal Pargana area in under a year. When Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar was killed on the way to Pakur in Dumka’s Kathikund block — adjacent to Sikaripara where Thursday’s attack took place — on July 2 last year, the police largely accepted it as a one-off incident of an officer paying the price for letting his guard down.
The Jharkhand Police have always considered the idea of Santhal Pargana being a Maoist “expansion zone” as far-fetched. But as a villager outside Sadar police station said on Thursday continued…