Owner Questioned In Kolkata Hospital Fire


Kolkata: After AMRI director R.S. Agarwal, an accused in the hospital fire, pleaded he was unwell and could not come to the court, a city court judge Monday went to the ambulance to speak to him.

Agarwal, who got himself admitted to a private hospital where he has been kept under arrest since the Dec 9 fire, is also chairman of the Rs.1,100 crore Emami Limited.

On Monday, a three-member board constituted by the West Bengal government examined Agarwal at the private medical facility and said he needed only oral medicines and was fit enough to be produced in court.

”We decided to produce him in court. But as we were taking him out, he complained of uneasiness. We then put him in a well-equipped ambulance – a mobile critical care unit – of the private hospital and brought him to the court premises after taking all precautions,” said city police joint commissioner (crime) Damayanti Sen.

Agarwal was taken to the Alipore Court premises. But inside the court, a legal battle broke out between his counsels and those of the government over whether he can be produced in such a health condition.

Finally, Chief Judicial Magistrate Hefazat Abdul Karim came out of the court and stepped into the ambulance where he spoke to Agarwal for a couple of minutes. The judge also saw his medical reports and spoke to the doctors, Sen said.

Later, he directed that Agarwal be admitted at the premier state-run hospital SSKM where he would undergo thorough check-up. “And if he is found fit, he will be produced before the court tomorrow,” said Sen.

Six directors of the hospital, including Shrachi Group chairman S.K. Todi and his counterpart in the Emami Group R.S. Goenka, were nabbed hours after the fire in South Kolkata’s Dhakuria area and remanded in ten days’ police custody by the Alipore chief judicial magistrate’s court. Charged with culpable homicide, they would again be produced in the court Tuesday.

The pre-dawn blaze in the high-cost hospital led to the deaths of 93 people, mostly patients.

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