MUMBAI, India – An Indian archbishop said an attack on a Catholic hospital was “very saddening.”
The attack on Catholic Nazareth Hospital in Mokama in the north-eastern state of Bihar took place on July 15, when a mob of around 30 people attacked the medical facility’s only functioning ward, which had eleven patients.
“The mob equally terrorized the working staff, the watchman and the patients,” said the hospital administrator, Sister Anjana of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, which was founded in Kentucky.
“Ten of the eleven patients developed fever and loose motion out of fear and the blood-pressure of one patient went high due to panic,” she said in an open letter. “It all happened under the watchful eye of a handful of Mokama police personnel who were onlookers along with the mob.”
Sister Anjana said that Sister Aruna Kerketta, who was on call at the facility during the attack, was beaten up and kicked as she tried to inform the administration about the situation.
In her letter, she described how the group rushed into the ward with a person on a stretcher, with people shouting: “Get ready with everything and call the doctor
“They rolled the stretcher till the end of the ward where two female inpatients were resting. One of the attendants from the mob went to beat up an old female patient,” Sister Anjana continued.
The person on the stretcher was confirmed to be already dead by the doctor, although the mob claimed the person still had a pulse.
“Out of fear for their lives, the nurses locked themselves in the nurses’ station along with the doctor and called for the on-call sister. The mob kept banging on the door,” the letter said.
The deceased was a 40-year-old railway worker that had been shot while riding his motorbike.
“It is tragic to lose a young man like that abruptly. It is ever more tragic to terrorize the on-duty nurses and the doctor,” Sister Anjana said.
“Nazareth Hospital functions with a handful of nurses and doctors. It is a difficult task for the administration to recruit trained doctors and nurses to work at the hospital. Then by the rude and mob behavior of our very local people who keep on asking the hospital administration to make the hospital function as a full-fledged hospital; isn’t this a contradiction in terms?” she continued.
The Nazareth hospital began operating in 1948 with 25 beds and gradually grew to a 280-bed facility.
However, the hospital was forced to downsize in 2012. The facility currently provides medical outpatient and in-patient services in obstetrics and gynecology. It also has a wellness center and a physiotherapy department that works with stroke patients.
“How is it possible to function in such a hostile environment?” Sister Anjana wrote in her letter.
Archbishop Sebastian Kallupura of Patna told Crux it was “very saddening that this incident took place in such a hospital where a lot is being done to help the poor and deprived people, especially women and children.”
He said he was praying for for the hospital staff “as well as the people who did this atrocity.”