Over the past month, the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been bringing to light a monstrosity silently ailing the state’s medical system.
The lid is off of a massive fake doctors’ racket, and till now at least seven people working with bogus medical certificates have been arrested. The CID has said that at least 500 more medical practitioners are under the scanner.
The astonishing part is that some of them had been working for years at leading private hospitals in Kolkata, while the others were at state-run facilities and private clinics.
The Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh has said that strict watch should be kept on registrations of doctors and the government will definitely take action.
Illustrious Names Under Fire
The racket came to the fore on 3 May when the CID arrested two practitioners employed in government-run hospitals in the northern Bengal's Alipurduar and North Dinajpur districts.
On 25 May, Ramesh Chandra Baidya, a member of the 'Alternative Medical Council Calcutta', was arrested for his alleged involvement in supplying fake certificates.
During interrogation, he confessed to selling more than 500 fake degrees for lakhs of rupees. For an extra Rs 10,000, he would even provide a 'gold medalist' certificate.
The CID began probing the entire fake doctor case three months after complaints reached the West Bengal Medical Council and the government, in which Mamata Banerjee is health minister, gave it the go ahead.
The first arrest came with a person who identified as Kaiser Alam from North Bengal. He worked at Kolkata’s Ruby General Hospital since 2015.
Soon, more doctors fell into the police net, with many of them attached to some of the most renowned hospitals in the city including Belle Vue Clinic, Kothari Medical, Kalpana Women and Child Care, and ILS Hospital.
One of the shocking arrests is of Subhendu Bhattacharya, who recently got an award from President Pranab Mukherjee and is the owner of a private nursing home in Howrah. His list of degrees and his Facebook profile are enough to impress anyone. He claims to have studied at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Cambridge.
The others arrested so far have been identified as Naren Pandey who is attached to Belle Vue Clinic, Ajay Tewary (a ‘consultant gastroenterologist’ with leading private hospitals when in reality he only had a BCom degree), Ram Shankar Singh (has a private chamber in Howrah), Khusinath Haldar (employed in Madarihat block primary health centre in Alipurduar), and Mohammed Akbar Ali from Kolkata’s Panchasayar area.
‘Medical Chambers Have Mushroomed Like Grocery Shops Across Bengal’
Amid the constant stream of arrests, the state medical council pleaded helplessness, saying it neither had judicial powers nor could act like police, but claimed that the racket was busted after it asked for medical registration of doctors in the state.
West Bengal Medical Council president Nirmal Maji has alleged that some fake doctors were active in government hospitals, while in private hospitals and nursing homes, "they call the shots".
Maji alleged that seven to eight "illegal private institutions" have been supplying "bogus medical registration numbers".
Medical chambers have mushroomed like grocery shops across Bengal. They have got their registrations from seven-eight illegal institutions. Even those who have only cleared higher secondary level or posses BA or MA degrees have been given recognition as doctors.Nirmal Majhi, President, West Bengal Medical Council
The council has appealed to people to inform it if they suspected anybody to be a fake doctor. On the CID insistence, it had issued a directive to doctors to register themselves afresh, renew and update their credentials with them.
(With inputs from IANS and CNN News18.)
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