IT TOOK more than three hours after a blast rocked a congested suburb in north Kolkata for six-year-old Bibhas Ghosh and his mother Sita, both seriously injured, to be admitted to a hospital. By then, it was too late for Bibhas, who died just three days short of his seventh birthday, while Sita was battling for life.
Nine other people were injured in the “crude socket bomb explosion” that took place around 9 am Tuesday outside a residential building at Kajipara in the Nagerbazar area, police said. Sita, who works as a domestic help in the building, is among three with serious injuries.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast but TMC leader and South Dumdum municipality chairman Panchu Roy, whose office is located in the building, has claimed that he was the target. Roy, however, did not specify why he was targeted or by whom.
All that, however, was of little consequence to Bibhas’s father and Sita’s husband, Janmejoy Ghosh, who told The Indian Express that his son may have been saved if he had received treatment in time.
Ghosh, who works at a sweets shop in Dumdum, and local residents who accompanied the family in an ambulance said they rushed to a private nursing home nearby, a private hospital 14 km away, and finally to the state-run SSKM hospital in Rabindra Sadan another 10 km away, where they reached around 12.40 pm.
“At SSKM, the doctors first asked us to stand in the queue and get a ticket. Finally, my wife and son were admitted. But I lost my boy soon after. My wife is still critical,” Ghosh said.
“We are poor people, that is why we could not take them to big private hospitals. My son got treatment very late. He was gasping for breath when we brought him to SSKM. Around 10 minutes after he was admitted, the doctors declared him dead,” he said.
“At the nursing home where we went first, the doctors told us that there was no child care or burn unit. We rushed to another private hospital in Park Circus, where they provided a saline drip and referred us to SSKM,” Ghosh said.
Employees at the nursing home in Dumdum and the hospital in Park Circus declined comment when contacted by The Indian Express.
Prof Raghunath Misra, Superintendent, SSKM, said: “I was informed by a journalist that the victims of the Dumdum blast are here and waiting. Immediately, I called the emergency wing and told them not to bother about tickets or official work, and to admit them. It’s a fact that they reached here late. I met the mother in the ward. I intervened personally so that time would not be wasted.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, doctors at SSKM said Bibhas suffered “major burn injuries with parts of his face and torso complete burnt”. Sita suffered 30 per cent burns, “with other serious injuries”, and is currently in the critical care unit.
According to Ghosh, his wife decided to take Bibhas, a Class 2 student of K K Hindi Academy School in Nagerbazar, along with her as she set out for work since the school was closed on Gandhi Jayanti. The couple’s elder son Bikas, a Class 10 student, stayed behind.
Hailing from Kulpi in South 24 Parganas, the family moved to a rented house at Arjunpur in Dumdum a few years ago when Ghosh got work at the sweets shop in the Motijheel area.
“We were preparing to celebrate the birthday of our Bibhas on October 5. This morning, he was walking to the building, holding his mother’s hand. He was the youngest in the family and the most loved. We cannot accept that he is no more,” Purnima Roy, a relative, said.
Local residents said the bombs were kept inside a jute bag under a fruit stall on the ground floor of the building. “I thought it was a gas cylinder blast and rushed down to see people lying on the road with blood all over, and the boy badly injured. His mother, too, was lying in pool of blood,” Akarshan Gan, a resident of the building, said. —(With Sweety Mishra)