A mob of 300 goons came and vandalized the hospital. Many of them were out of their senses to understand what’s happening but continued to hit on the wall and glasses. This is a phenomenon too frequently in news nowadays. And this pattern has a different dimension too.
A government lawyer has told Calcutta High Court that the city police have definite information on a group that attacks hospitals in exchange for money from patient parties who refuse to pay the bill.
The lawyer was referring to a specific instance of a hospital being forced to "settle" a bill of Rs 5.10 lakh for Rs 80,000. But the account echoes what some police officers and hospital officials have been saying in private for the past few months.
Advocate Dutta told the court: "The police have definite information that the father of the petitioner, Rakesh Singh, attacks hospitals and nursing homes on behalf of the patient parties who fail to pay the hospital bill. Singh and his associates force the hospital authorities to settle the bill paying a small portion of it. The police have also information that patient parties have to pay 25 per cent of the reduced amount to Singh and his men for taking their service."
The lawyer said the investigators had information that in August 2017, a patient was taken away without the bill being paid. Singh created trouble on the pretext of holding a "peaceful demonstration" and forced the hospital in Ekbalpore to "settle" the bill, Dutta added.
"We see the same faces leading the demonstrations and carrying out the negotiations every time", said a hospital owner.
An official of another private hospital said that usually a group of three to four people, with political patronage, run such operations, taking advantage of tea stalls in front of hospitals where often relatives of patients discuss how the bill was going up.
"They overhear the conversations and approach the relatives with a promise to get significant discounts against a donation," said the official. "They have informers in the hospital too. Then they create trouble and force us to give discounts," he said.
In the court, the state counsel said that in the incident last year, Singh and his associates allegedly staged demonstrations for two days in front of the hospital. On the third day, they led a mob to ransack the hospital and assaulted some doctors and employees.
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