As debates over the government's decision to scrap ₹500 and ₹1000 notes rage on social media, the chasm between information and the country's means to consume the same has created mayhem on ground. While it has been reported in the past that people have committed suicide assuming large sums of money they were in possession of, were invalid, inadequate information is leading to more casualties.
The latest heartbreaking news in a series of such news is that a newborn in Govandi, Mumbai died allegedly after his parents attempted to deposit the cash in the hospital in ₹500 notes, and the hospital refused to accept the same. Consequently, the doctors also refused to treat the baby, a report states.
Mumbai Mirror reports that Kiran Sharma, carpenter Jagdish Sharma's wife, was due for delivery on December 7. She had been under the supervision of one Dr Sheetal Kamath of Jeevan Jyot Hospital and Nursing Home. On November 8, the government scrapped the use of ₹500 and ₹1000 notes.
On November 9, the Mumbai Mirror report says, Kiran went into early labour and the situation got out of hand even before she could be taken into hospital. The baby was delivered at home with family around and mother and child were soon rushed to Jeevan Jyot Hospital and Dr Kamath.
Reportedly, while the doctor extended Kiran some preliminary care, she refused to provide any further treatment to the mother, or the premature infant, until Rs 6000 was deposited in the hospital. With ATMs shut, the family had no way to withdraw that amount of money in currency denomination of ₹100. They went back and a day later, the baby's condition worsened. He was rushed to another doctor but died waiting for their turn.
This happened despite the government issuing a directive asking all hospitals to accept the scrapped notes till 11 November.
A complaint has been lodged at the Sivaji Nagar police station.
UPDATE: Following allegations on social media that Mumbai Mirror had misreported Dr Kamath's quotes, the editor of the tabloid tweeted saying that they had recorded evidence that Kamath had told them exactly what has been reported in the article. The following tweet claimed that Mirror's journalist has misconstrued Kamath's words.
People, please be a little patient before you circulate the untruth printed by Mumbai Mirror. This is the actual statement -Please read & RT pic.twitter.com/wPfff1EZuZ— Nandita Iyer (@saffrontrail) November 12, 2016
The response from Mumbai Mirror was thus:
Now Mirror has released a recording of a conversation which they claim took place between the journalist and Dr Kamath. The conversation in Marathi has been uploaded on YouTube. Following is a transcript of the conversation. The recording has a woman's voice, purportedly Dr Kamath's, repeatedly saying that she had asked the patient's family to come back with proper denominations for the deposit money, following which she would admit the baby.
Reporter: Hi, I'm from the Mumbai Mirror, wanted to speak to you for a moment. Your patient, one Kiran Sharma, has lodged a complaint that your hospital did not admit her because she did not have change [for ₹500 and ₹1,000]. As in, she says she didn't have change for ₹3,000 to deposit it in the hospital.
Doctor: No, not that they didn't have change, we asked them to get it since the old ones [₹500 and ₹1,000 notes] were invalid.
Reporter: Is that why you did not admit her in the hospital?
Doctor: Actually, the baby had been delivered at home only, and they had brought her to the hospital in that condition. I did her thorough check-up and told her that the baby would have to be kept in glass [incubator] for a while. There were some complications, so I had written Sharma a note, to take the baby to a hospital in Sion. She didn't come to me for delivery. The mother had delivered the baby at home.
Reporter: Right, right. But she is your patient, right? From the very beginning [of her pregnancy]?
Doctor: Yes, yes. She has is my patient, but she needed the money to keep the baby in the incubator, no? She could not afford it. She did not have the currency (sic). What would I have done with the patient there?
Reporter: But ma'am, in such cases, isn't it important to save the life first? Currency...
Doctor: No, but I did all I could. I checked the baby, the mother. I gave her an injection and everything. I had done all I could, all that needed to be done. Yes, she did not have money for admission, but I could not admit her in the hospital forcibly, [without currency] no?
Reporter: But the parents are claiming that they had the money, and they were even ready to pay it to the hospital. But they didn't have the change.
Doctor: No, this isn't about change. They had money in ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes. They came after the notes were invalid.
Reporter: Yes ma'am. Will you listen to me for a second. That's what they are saying — that you weren't accepting those notes. They had even said that they would arrange for the change [in ₹100 notes], but they needed an hour's time.
Doctor: Yeah. I told them. Get the change and have the baby admitted... But they took the patient away.
With inputs from Prajakta Hebbar.