Kolkata: Suspended Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh, now in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the Saradha chit fund scam, Friday claimed to have taken sleeping pills to commit suicide and is now in a stable condition in the critical care unit of a city hospital.
Ghosh's purported bid to take his own life landed West Bengal's Trinamool Congress government in the eye of a storm, with the opposition and legal luminaries questioning the administration's lack of vigil in a high-security jail on an MP who had openly declared four days back that he would attempt suicide if those involved in the swindle were not rounded up within three days.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reacted by suspending jail officials and the on-duty hospital staff, while an FIR was filed against Ghosh in a city police station for attempting suicide.
A top official of the state's premier government SSKM Hospital said Ghosh claimed that he took 30-40 sedatives of a known brand inside the Presidency jail.
"Ghosh has told the doctors that he took 30-40 Alprazolam tables from the evening upto night time Thursday. He was given a stomach wash as per protocol. The contents in his stomach has been sent for forensic examination," SSKM Hospital director Pradip Mitra told mediapersons here.
Ghosh, a Rajya Sabha member, was taken to the hospital around 3.05 a.m. Friday in a partially drowsy condition and admitted to the Critical Care unit. A medical board has been formed for his treatment.
"The board has given a report after examining him. He is now stable and much better," said Mitra.
Around 2 a.m. Friday the jail authorities found Ghosh out of breath and rushed him to hospital after he claimed to have consumed the sedatives.
In a statement at the state assembly, Banerjee said the superintendent of Presidency Jail, attending doctor, nurse and on-duty staff of the hospital have been suspended.
She said though Ghosh claimed to have consumed 30 tablets, doctors felt the number would be around 15. An inquiry has been ordered.
Deputy Commisssioner (South) of city police Murlidhar Sharma said the jail authorities have filed an FIR against Ghosh for an alleged suicide attempt, which is a punitive action under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
Ghosh, who headed Saradha media arm before being arrested in November last year, has been alleging the involvement of several leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress, including its top brass.
Retired Supreme Court judge and former chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Ashok Ganguly was at the forefront of the attack against the Banerjee government on the issue.
Ganguly, who led a "save democracy" march in the heart of the city against the Banerjee government, said the authorities should have been more careful as Ghosh is an important witness.
"He is under judicial custody. The state administration looks after him on behalf of the court. He had earlier given such a threat. The administration should have been more careful," Ganguly said on the sidelines of the rally.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha said those in power want to "finish off" Ghosh by any means. "So they thought when he had declared his intention to commit suicide, they should not keep him under close observation," Sinha said.
Leader of the opposition and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Surjya Kanta Mishra said: "The government would have to take full responsibility if anything happened to Kunal."
Congress leader Abdul Mannan smelt a "conspiracy" hatched by the state government to "get rid" of Ghosh.
Former Tripura advocate general Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said "somebody" may have provoked Ghosh as he is the most important witness against those involved in the Saradha muddle. "Otherwise, how did he get the pills?"