Aligarh (UP) It was the fateful night of Monday, the 31st Aug 2020. An Ex Armyman, staying at Civil Lines Aligarh, felt some uneasiness and sweating while readying up for duty. Incidentally he happened to be one out of 5 Ex Army Personnel that assist the Proctorial Department of the Aligarh Muslim University in maintaining law, order and discipline on the University campus.
Being a trained person, the Ex-Fauji knew that something was amiss. He immediately summoned help and rushed to the AMU Medical College (Emergency). With self induced cough to take care of any blockages in the interim, he reached the medical college. With a sigh of relief, he handed himself to the care of the medical fraternity at the AMU Medical College Emergency, just like he would have done in any Army’s SSQ (Station Sick Quarters) or Medical facility, with full faith and trust. Little did he know that the reciprocative sincerity and trust that he would have gotten in an Army Hospital was not to be found at this facility that he so blindly trusted.
Those who know the Nawabi (princely) style and functioning of some of those who manage the AMU institutions, would synch with me when i presume with certainty that at 0930 PM, under the dark shadows of the pandemic, no senior doctor, leave alone senior, no junior doctor would put himself on the roster to serve the mankind that they took oath while beginning their noble profession. The Interns thus are left to attend and play trial and error with the lives of those unlucky few who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Something similar happened. The doctors/interns on duty without much application of mind, gave a cursory look at the patient. Gauging the harmless and non-intimidating attendants and the time of the night, the doctors on duty accordingly summed up the treatment to be given. Who will take the undue risk of preparing the OT (Operation Theatre) or take the undue pains of calling up the specialist, who in all likelihood must have already warned his/her juniors not to disturb him while he slept. Thus skipping and saving on the troubles to go in for procedures like angioplasty or those that are time tested arsenals in a Doctor’s kit.
The easiest option for the docs/interns on duty, at such late hours was thus to try the shortest cut. So what better way than to give a jibe of an injection, even though it could have been the last option under an otherwise efficiently managed institution. But then, who worries for the Risk to life. There is a constant stream of medical aid seekers that keep coming in irrespective of the complacency and callousness of those permanents running the operations. Forget the Risk factor in this case too, the white coats had already covered themselves, having taken consent of the youngster who came in as the first attendant, signing for and admitting the patient at his own risk.
Having decided on the course already, a prescription was easy to scribble, leaving the choice of the make and company to the attendees to delve into.
Taking the prescription as the final gospel of God, the attendants rushed to the recommended medical store. Digging deeper into their pockets as per the need of the hour, they got the best Injection, available in the market, Cipla brand.
As such the short cut resorted to was even shorter than expected. Without caring for any calculations of dosage requirements per the patients stats, the Injection was administered, despite the attendees casting doubts and showing apprehensions about the mode of treatment, without due supervision by the Senior lot who am sure must be snoring away to glory at their palatial University provided bungalows.
As was assumed, the Injection did the magic trick, the blockage got dislodged. But then by the time the full effect showed up, there was no doctor to show up and face the attendants of the Armyman. The dislodged blockage, now broken up into finer pieces travelled to the brain and burst open the capillaries, causing severe brain haemorhage and the unlucky patient, who had all the linkelihood of surviving an heart attack, was NO MORE. He died of something else, a brain haemorrhage that was the result of incompetene and negligence on the part of doctors and AMU Medical services.
Under such a brutal negligence, if the attendants and relatives had protested, the AMU Administration would have cited disrespect to the medical fraternity, Doctors would have sat on dharnas and boycotted duties, the Indian Medical Association would have been busy tweeting and demanding some Z levels of security to the fraternity and so on. But then all this did not happen so neither did any of the Senior Doctors showed any aota of shame on their negligence and mismanagement. Rather exuberating indulgence, hurrying around unnecessarily down the corridors, they avoided facing and looking into the eyes of those who lost their near and dear one so damn easily. Maybe this was a routine at the AMU medical college, all shielded up against any state regulatory investigations and interferences.
Some hours before the death, with damage having been already inflicted and severe brain haemorrhage having set in, the demands by the relatives and friends to transfer or refer the patient to the next higher level of medical facility particularly AIIMS, Delhi was deliberately scuttled by the medical college authorities. Among the pretexts used were reasons like the non availability of the specialist or a Senior Doctor etc to sign the referral and the likes, thereby wasting crucial hours that could have saved a precious life. Finally by late morning with the passing away of the patient, the chance of an alternate opinion catching up and reversing the incompetent handling of the patient at the AMU Medical College Emergency also died. This served as a saving grace for the inefficients at the Emergency and giving them a new leash to continue and repeat the same unprofessional approach with some other case, all over again, with impunity, only separated by a few hours or days.
With this over, started the real harassment for the family and its members. Since the allegations of mishandling by the Doctors was flying thick and thin, the Nawabs (literally) manning the University Emergency fearing accusations, started delaying the handover of the body. One of the brothers of the deceased, also an IAF Officer rushed from Delhi to Aligarh. Hearing that the AMU Medical Authorities were deliberately delaying and not releasing the body of his brother, he directly headed to the AMU Medical Emergency. Narrating further in his words.
“Already tired travelling and having lost my brother, I simply walked into the office of the Chief / Duty Medical Office at the time to request them to release the body. But before i could approach and put up my request, one of the two persons, the one in casual clothes who seemed to be a friend to the Duty Medical Officer very rudely waived with a dismissive air to keep away and not to come near.
Meanwhile the Duty Medical Officer (DMO), despite being in full medical attire, literally sprawled on his chair and seemed to be in the midst of some deep conversation with intermittent bouts of laughter, that apparently gave away that he was busy and deeply engrossed in some close and intimate conversation.
Having stood there for almost 10 minutes, with no end to the DMO’s conversation in sight, I interrupted him saying, “Excuse me Doc, can you please listen to us too, its a bit important.” Never fathomed that even a polite request to speak up to a Doctor would trigger him so violently. He kept the phone down and furiously charged, at me threatening and shouting at the top of his voice. As i reasoned out with him and pointed to the unprofessionalism that he was showing, his anger knew no bounds. Literally going berserk, he started shouting that now even if i called up the Prime Minister’s Office, he will not release my brother’s body. Simultaneously he kept calling and ordering the guards to throw me out.
Not ever used to this kind of behaviour, I calmly uttered that let me call the Police. This seemed to be another trigger for the unusual Doctor who was acting more like a “Bigda Nawab” (Spoilt Prince). Literally abusing and shouting, he said that he had the authority to get me arrested and started dialling the Police Control.
By this time, more people entered and started calming him down. The guards, seeing my non-violent though firm behavior urged me to go out of the room. I too, on my part, sensing the Doctor’s Blood Pressure was touching the 7th sky, walked out of the room, praying that he shouldnt collapse, lest they blame me for culpable homicide in his own office. I was followed out by a posse of guards and Bulls (Security guards from Proctors Office as they are referred)
Since it was an unusual occurrence, I immediately rang up my old time acquaintances, got the Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor’s Number and rang him up to appraise him of the kind of fiefdoms that were being run under him at the Aligarh Muslim University. However despite several calls to his mobile (Ph 9837xxxx94) as well as landline numbers (0571-xxxxx73) there was no response and none picked up. It being post lunch, probably the Lords of Aligarh, still keep the traditional ‘Afternoon Nap’ very much alive, else what could explain the Vice Chancellor of a Central University or his attendants not responding to his numbers both office and home.
However, to some solace, the PS to the Vice Chancellor did pick up his phone after a long ring. (Ph No +91 941xxxxx24) Exchanged the usual Aligarian pleasantries and narrated the whole incident to him and also told him about the VC not picking his phone. Though quite polite, he could only help me by ascertaining the veracity of the VC’s number and additionally giving me his Residence Number, which as i tried subsequently also went unanswered.
In the meantime two cops, one of them a two striped, in all likelihood the Beat Officer of the Area, riding a bike, arrived and after getting a briefing from the DMO came straight to me as i waited outside the Emergency, saying “Chalo Thaney Sahab ne Bulaya Hai”
With my hairs turning grey, i knew how to tackle a Cop. More so one look at the main one, I knew he was an experienced and mature one and my inherent belief in the proverbial saying that Indian Police’s Investigative skills are so brilliant that they know beforehand as to who and where the next crime is to be committed. This gave me confidence that he will listen to me as well and must already be knowing what happened. I introduced myself to him, narrated the whole story and how the elephant sized ego of the Doc got hurt and all. The Security Guard, also corroborated about what exactly had happened and how the Doc just boiled over for no reason.
The Police guy gave a patient hearing, dialled his seniors number, briefed him on phone, shook hands and left. The Uttar Pradesh policeman’s, maturity, his and his assistant’s conduct and the faith that these two cops reposed in me was indeed amazing and commendable. A thumbs up from my side was enough assurance to him that things won’t deteriorate any further. While departing, the cop took my rank, name and number to fill up the police diary about the incident.
In the meantime, some old timers had come over including an Ex-Controller of the University. As darkness fell, probably the DMO’s ego also subsided as he knew that he had delayed the funeral, long enough to add a blow to my already bereaving heart by delaying the release of the body for the entire day.
Thereafter, while releasing the body, that too, not to me but to my nephews, the same duty medical officer of the day sent across a message, ‘Tell him (me) that there was no reason to not release the body earlier, but then we give a damn whether you are from the Indian Army or the Indian Air Force”.
The funeral finally could happen late into the Night, around 11:00 PM and it was past mid-night for the family members to return from Mintoi, the University burial site. Despite the late hours, it was attended by a huge crowd of all well wishers, friends and relatives.
While the incident culminated as it was bound to, like everything else, but it did leave a deep scar in the heart of those who experienced as well as those who heard of the unprofessionalism and high handedness of the University Appointees. Not that it was the first time. AMU is infamous for some of it’s Professors acting bizarrely with its student community and even with it’s staff and employees. There used to be times when individuals remained chairman of departments for lifetimes and used to run them like their personal Jagirs (feudal land holdings). Such autocrats used to be so powerful that at times they used to marry multiple times, often their own students. This somewhat got controlled, thanks to the rotational chairmanship that got introduced in the late Nineties, but by then innumerable lives and families had been destroyed.
The elites and barons of Aligarh University need to know and be reminded that it’s now the 21st century India and in the present times, none can go unaccountable or hoodwink systems for long. More so under the present regime in Uttar Pradesh, that has put criminals, crooks and wrong doers on notice.
As the country undergoes a techno – accountability revolution under the Prime Ministership of Mr Narendra Modi, it’s high time that such fiefdoms are dismantled. The sooner the better for the nation and the community to progress further.