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Washing the grime away, Agra style

Aman Khanna

The Agra Mental Hospital is not the same. Between July 1 and July 6, the green of the trees and the brown of the earth have become a shade darker. The monsoon has finally baptised the lands with its holy water.

And with the water, and Dr SK Gupta’s suspension, the hospital has been washed of all sins and vices. Everyone says there was no malaise to begin with, save for Dr Gupta. He was the source of all evil, the epitome of villainy — an “antisocial”, a “psychopath”… a “niggard”, “irresponsible”, “selfish” to the core.

And yet, in the eight years of his service, incredulously, no one really came to know him — “Woh to doosri side baithte the”; he “never socialised” — except for attending the occasional dos and the seminars; “had uncomfortable relationships with everyone”.
Says one doctor, with discernible anger for the camera, “Everybody is abusing him; we want him to be punished. It is because of him the world perceives our hospital, today, as the den of criminals.” Another adds, “He was always frivolous: never came for duty on time.”

It seems, with the rains, other practitioners at the Agra Mental Asylum have washed their hands of a colleague — and there is a race to reach the finish line first. Everything from eating habits to way of speech is being picked on.

On the evening the story broke, an old nurse exclaimed in front of television crews: “Gupta used to eat away the food meant for patients”; “He never spent any money” was another male nurse’s take. A senior doctor told this reporter, “His language was improper for someone in his position.”

July 17, 2004

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