Dr Amit Sengupta, a public health and people’s science movement activist, who was the convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, died in Goa on Wednesday. He was 60.
A student of Maulana Azad Medical College, he had graduated from the institute in the early 1980s. When his father asked him to start a private practice, he chose a village near Sainik Farms, said childhood friend, theatre director N K Sharma.
“After graduating from Maulana Azad Medical College, he started working in (an associated) hospital. However, he didn’t fit in. Idealism came before himself. Within a week of starting the clinic near Sainik Farms, he came to us and asked how could he charge the poor for treatment. He closed that down as well,” said Sharma, describing Sengupta as very socially conscious.
Dr Sengupta is survived by his wife Tripta Narang and his son, a college student.
A member of Delhi Science Forum and All India People’s Science Network, Sengupta worked on issues around accessibility to medicine and healthcare, as well as patenting.
What distinguished him from other doctors and activists, said friend and Delhi Science Forum member Prabir Purkayastha, was how he combined the politics of medicine with the knowledge of medicine.
“Amit wanted a real change in society and worked towards that. It was not wooly-eyed idealism,” he said.
According to Purkayastha, Sengupta had recently started working on large molecules in medicine and what patenting these would mean to the medical world. “Amit was rigorous in medical sciences and combined that with social awareness,” he said.
According to authorities in Goa, he was retrieved from the shores of Betalbatim and rushed to Hospicio Hospital in south Goa, where he was declared dead.
According to the police at Colva police station, under whose jurisdiction the beach falls, “it’s a case of natural death”. Gupta’s wife was named as the first witness. Police Sub Inspector Harish Desai confirmed the details and said, “She has given a statement that there is no foul play. She says she saw him walk to the sea end, from her beach bed, He was walking through knee deep water for a while. Later when she saw again, he was in the water, but soon disappeared though he was still very near to the shore. Lifeguards rushed in and dragged him. He was unfortunately still and they rushed him to hospital.”
Police are waiting for a postmortem report to rule out any other possibility.