What killed Supriya Lamgaday?

What killed Supriya Lamgaday? – Apathy of Delhi Police or Medical Negligence of Government doctors or Racial Discrimination!
Some accidents are considered too insignificant to be mentioned anywhere or covered by the media. The bigger tragedy, apart from the irreparable loss of life, is the multi-layered nature of marginalisation, racial discrimination, injustice and negligence from the part of the police and the hospitals that are involved in the post-accident handling of many cases. For the relatives of the victim, the trauma of losing a loved one is also coupled with the jolting awakening to the feeling that-
‘I am nothing. The pain that I am going through, the threat to my life and the life of my near ones means nothing to those whose prime duty is to protect me and save me.’

Supriya’s family and close ones are haunted each day with these questions. ‘Am I, as` an Indian Gorkha, not even entitled to the basic rights enjoyed by other fellow ‘Indians’?” ‘Is my life not worthy of being saved in my own country? ’

This loss of faith massively erodes ones self-worth and confidence. It leaves a shock of hollowing insecurity that even time may never heal. Her family’s dissatisfaction towards the police and the hospitals they approached has been so stifling that they approached the Gorkha`Students of JNU to write about the ordeals and injustices they faced. It is indeed one of the starkest forms of blatant racial discrimination, negligence and highhandedness of Delhi Police and the staff some of renowned hospitals in New Delhi.

What killed Supriya Lamgaday?
What killed Supriya Lamgaday?

Supriya, daughter of Chandra Bahadur Lamgaday, was a resident of Ward no. 9, Mirik, Darjeeling. She was 21 years old and had been working in Delhi for some time. On 3rd September, 2014 around 7:30 pm, while returning home from work with one of her colleagues in his motor cycle, they met with an accident at NH-8 Devarana farm near Mahipalpur, Vasant Kunj police station, New Delhi. As a car ahead of them came to a sudden halt without any signal, the car behind them also suddenly stopped causing their motor cycle to lose balance. The sudden brake caused Supriya, who was riding pillion, to be thrown off the bike. Upon falling, her head was hit by the car that was in front of them. Despite seeing Supriya lying injured on the road, the drivers of both the cars fled from the scene. Her friend, Vished, who was driving the motor cycle lifted up Supriya with the help of a couple on the road and put her into a car. She was rushed to the closest army hospital near Palam airport. There she was only given a bottle of glucose and some first aid for her external bruises. The doctor from the Army hospital (The Base Hospital) suggested she be taken to another hospital as the required machines (for ECG, CT Scan) was not available there. Supriya was then taken to Deen Dayal hospital at around 9.30 pm.

Precious time which could have saved a life was continuously lost even after reaching the hospital. When Supriya’s mother reached Deen Dayal Hospital, she saw that her daughter was lying down in the emergency ward. She had not been attended by any doctor. The hospital took around half an hour to complete all the formalities before examining her as the accident had to be first reported to the police. While Vished was giving the FIR, one of the police personnel offered to hush up the case and help him escape from it if Vished agreed to pay Rs 30,000! How much more could the Delhi Police trivialise a fatal accident and try to capitalise from somebody’s tragedy? Supriya’s mother still remembers the smirk in the face of the police as he made a horrifically insensitive comment – ‘Teri beti to gayi!’

After much pursuance, the doctor from Deen Dayal Hospital declared that Supriya was in a critical condition. Despite this she was not given the required care and attention. Instead of the nurses, her friends were made to pump oxygen to make her pulse stable and had to repeatedly run after the doctors to get updates about Supriya’s condition. Where were the trained nurses and technicians?

The doctor then informed that Supriya had to be yet again taken to some other hospital for a CT scan as the machines were not available in the hospital. Couldn’t this be told earlier?
The doctor wasn’t even willing to refer Supriya to another hospital. It was after many requests that the doctor agreed and referred Supriya to Safdarjung Hospital.

Until then, time was only lost with nothing concrete done to take her out of danger. Couldn’t a ‘qualified’ doctor immediately refer Supriya to the ‘AIIMS Trauma Centre’ instead of Safdarjunj Hospital?

Supriya was brought to Safdarjung Hospital at around 2 pm (or 12am???). Without proper instruction and guidance, time was further lost in taking the patient up and down the elevator more than 3 times just to do the X-Ray. In Safdarjung too, they were only informed that Supriya was in a critical condition but the doctors were neither willing to attend the patient nor do an ECG or any other tests. Out of utter desperation, Supriya’s mother literally caught hold of a doctor. She shouted, screamed, cried and requested, all at the same time to get the ECG and other tests done.

All this while, Supriya – who had been twice declared to be in a critical condition- had not even been provided with a bed. She was kept in the corridor until the test reports arrived. After checking her reports she was provided a bed in the emergency ward instead of the ICU. The doctor then kept her in a ventilator and glucose.

Despite having a severe head injury, Supriya was not provided constant monitoring and observation by the doctors and nurses. Her family and friends again ran after doctors to get updates about her condition. The nurses were formidable and rude when approached. In such an alarming situation when the fear of losing her was driving them mad, the nurses asked Supriya’s family and friends to maintain silence. In one of the most renowned hospitals in India, Supriya was lying down battling for life with Only her friends to constantly check her pulse and heart beat. She still kept the hopes of her family and friends ignited by nodding her head to respond to their questions.

The next morning, all of a sudden, Supriya had difficulty in breathing. The doctor was called and he removed the ventilator without informing her family. Her attendants could not understand why he did so! Had she been left to die? They were asked to pump the oxygen manually without even clearly demonstrating to them the correct way of doing it. As her family frantically continued to pump oxygen, Supriya collapsed never to wake up again. It was 11:30 am, the 4th of Sept.

As Supriya’s mother, Ms Euden Ghissing and her relatives narrated the incident, we experienced the same hollowness of insecurity and extreme grief. Grief mixed with regrets, questions and wrath. The more we began to think, the more questions we asked to ourselves.

How ironical it is! Are the hospitals so busy that it can’t stop to save a life? Or is it too busy to stop and care for a patient from the North East? Who is the hospital for? Who are the doctors for? Who are the nurses for? Wasn’t Supriya Critical enough, Indian enough, Affluent enough, Important enough, Well-connected enough? To the police and hospital staff she wasn’t any of these, but she was definitely Critical and in dire need of Immediate Medical help! Shouldn’t that suffice enough for the doctors to get into action and for the police to extend all possible support to her family?

We strongly believe that although Supriya met with a serious accident on that fateful day, it was delay, apathy and medical negligence that took her life. Our deepest condolences are with her family and friends for their great loss. We appreciate their strength in standing up to recount every detail of the heart-rending incident so that we may be made aware of how little some hospitals in Delhi care about patients like us in grievous calamities such as this.
Is this kind of discrimination and vulnerability the fate of most of us who are migrant students and workers from the North East and Darjeeling?

We also offer our deepest condolence to the family of Deepali Kanwar (PhD scholar, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU). Deepali was a resident of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and did her schooling in Loreto Convent, Darjeeling. Deepali met with a fatal bus accident in Chandigarh on 24th August, 2014. She suffered from brain haemorrhage and her condition was declared critical when she was taken to the hospital. She succumbed to her injuries in 5th September. She received medical treatment from Sector 32, Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh. Her family believes that her chances of survival could have been stronger had the medical staff been more receptive to their complaints and cautious in their treatment.

The impending question in health care in India is – ‘Whose Life?’ ‘Is it worthy enough to be saved?’

Submitted by Dawa Sherpa

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