Desperate Father Travels with Deceased Child in Bag as Ambulance Demand Exorbitant Fee

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In a heart-wrenching incident, a father from West Bengal resorted to carrying the lifeless body of his five-month-old child in a bag during a harrowing 200-kilometer journey on a public bus. The man, identified as Ashim Debsharma, explained that he was unable to afford the exorbitant Rs 8,000 fee demanded by an ambulance driver to transport his child’s body from Siliguri to Kaliaganj. This distressing event has sparked a political debate, with the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, questioning the effectiveness of the state government’s ‘Swasthya Sathi’ health insurance scheme. In response, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) accused the BJP of politicizing the unfortunate death of a child.

Debsharma shared his heartbreaking account with reporters, revealing that his five-month-old son had passed away after receiving treatment at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri. He had already spent a substantial amount of Rs 16,000 on his child’s medical care. The grieving father narrated how he could not afford the hefty sum demanded by the ambulance driver to transport the body to Kaliaganj. Fearing that he would be denied transport if other passengers or staff discovered the contents of the bag, Debsharma took the drastic step of hiding his child’s body and embarked on a bus journey to his destination.

The incident quickly gained attention when Suvendu Adhikari tweeted videos of Debsharma’s interview, expressing his concerns about the efficacy of the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ health insurance scheme. Adhikari questioned whether this distressing event truly reflected the promised advancements of the state. In response, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen accused the BJP of engaging in opportunistic politics by exploiting the tragic death of a child.

This incident brings to light a distressing trend that has occurred before in the region. Earlier this year, in January, a similar incident unfolded in Jalpaiguri district. Unable to afford the inflated charges demanded by ambulance operators, another individual carried his mother’s body on his shoulder and began a 40-kilometer walk home from a government hospital. Thankfully, a social service organization intervened and provided a vehicle, ensuring their transportation home at no cost.

The distressing stories of Debsharma and the man from Jalpaiguri shed light on the significant challenges faced by individuals who cannot afford exorbitant ambulance fees. The incidents also highlight the need for effective measures to ensure affordable and accessible healthcare services for all citizens. The tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of these individuals have become a subject of political debate, emphasizing the importance of addressing these issues promptly and implementing measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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