Caught in red tape in Meghalaya, Assam couple misses son's last rites

The couple remained stranded in Meghalaya capital Shillong. They were in the hill station ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown to visit their daughter.

Published: 01st May 2020 03:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2020 03:58 PM   |  A+A-

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For representational purposes.

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Kamala Das and her husband Subhash Chandra Das will remain inconsolable for a long time and perhaps, unforgiving too.

The couple from Assam’s Hojai district could not be by the side of their dying son, Deepak, as the family’s plea for a curfew pass got stuck in red tape in Meghalaya. The 34-year-old Deepak died on Thursday and the last rites were performed in the absence of his parents.

The couple remained stranded in Meghalaya capital Shillong. They had arrived in the hill station ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown to visit their daughter.

Despite it being a genuine case, Kamala’s application for the curfew pass moved from the office of Extra Assistant Commissioner to District Magistrate to Deputy Secretary of Political Department in the Meghalaya Secretariat.

In the application to the DM, she wrote: “… My son Sri Deepak Das was suffering from the acute problem of liver cell disease with hepatorenal syndrome and at present under the treatment of Dr. A Bagchi, Hojai, for quite some time now. The prescription of concern doctor & a certificate is enclosed as per the attachment for kind and necessary issue of curfew pass immediately so as to enable me & my husband to attend to my ailing son, critically sick at present…

“Since the health condition of my son is extremely critical, I request your good self to issue curfew pass for vehicle registration no. ML 05 L 6674 of driver Sri Ritesh Das (9863063291) so as to travel from Shillong- Hojai & back by tomorrow.”

Kamala had also written that as her son might be required to be shifted to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, their being by his side was urgent to save his life as there was no other dependent member in the family for immediate medical care.

The certified copy of Dr. Bagchi, which was attached, reads: “I have examined Deepak Das…and found him suffering from chronic liver cell disease with early hepatorenal syndrome. The condition of the patient is very critical and may require hospitalization. Considering all angles, I think his mother Mrs Kamala Das who is in Shillong at present should stay with her son before any major event.”

The couple was eventually issued the curfew pass on Friday, a day after Deepak’s death. Kamala is inconsolable after having lost her dear son.

The vehicle pass was issued to the couple on Friday morning only after the intervention of the state’s health minister.

“We came to Shillong two months ago to visit our daughter. Then, there was this lockdown. I faced no problem in Shillong. Everything was fine at my residence in Hojai. Suddenly, my son, who was in Arunachal Pradesh, was brought to Dibrugarh (in Assam) for treatment for his liver disease. Later, he was shifted to Guwahati. He died yesterday (Thursday) and the body was taken home but we could not see him for one last time,” Kamala said breaking down into tears as she was travelling home in a car.

East Khasi Hills DM, Matsiewdor War Nongbri, says DMs have no authority to issue curfew passes.

“We keep receiving requests for vehicle passes but as we don’t have the authority, we connect the applicants to the Political Department,” Nongbri told this correspondent.

She said a number of vehicle passes had to be confiscated as people misused them in the name of medical emergencies, essential commodities etc. The police had also filed cases, she said. “If it is a matter of medical emergency and within the state of Meghalaya, it’s not a matter at all,” she added.

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