Mumbai: Why was Chhagan Bhujbal not sent back to jail for 2 months?

May 11, 2018, 18:49 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

After KEM docs declare the money-laundering accused fit for discharge five days after he's granted bail, and allow him to go home, activists ask why he wasn't sent back to jail for 2 months if his condition had improved

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s wife welcomes him home after he was discharged from KEM Hospital on Thursday. Pic/Satej Shinde
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal's wife welcomes him home after he was discharged from KEM Hospital on Thursday. Pic/Satej Shinde

Five days after he was granted bail in the money-laundering case filed against him, former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who has spent the last two months undergoing treatment for a host of ailments at KEM Hospital, was deemed fit for discharge yesterday and has already reached his Santacruz home. Bhujbal was granted bail last Friday.

While KEM authorities claimed that he was discharged as his medical reports were fine, activists, who were anyway unhappy with his frequent and long trips to hospitals since arrest, are riled up. Their question is: if he was well enough to go home within five days of getting bail, why wasn't he sent back to jail earlier, rather than letting him enjoy the VIP facilities at the hospital?

On April 19, when mid-day reported about activists' anger over Bhujbal's long hospital stay, hospital authorities had ruled out any question of preferential treatment. KEM dean Dr Avinash Supe had told mid-day then, "KEM Hospital has the best Gastroenterology department among civic hospitals. Hence, the decision to shift him from JJ Hospital. He has shown signs of improvement, but he needs to stay longer, until his condition improves further. In some cases, it takes two to three months to a year for a patient suffering from acute pancreatitis to recover." It then seems that all that was needed for recovery was bail.

The question
"Within just five days of getting bail, he was declared fine and allowed to go home with a nurse to care for him there. Then, why was he kept in hospital until now, if his condition had improved?" asked social worker Anjali Damania.

A senior doctor from the hospital said, "Before discharge, he underwent several examinations that came clean. But I can't provide more information on it."

Near future plans
According to his close relatives, the former minister has been advised rest and regular follow-ups at the hospital. In an official letter, his son Pankaj thanked the doctors at KEM Hospital. "He hasn't met his family for over two years; so, we are taking him home for a few days, after which, he will be taken to the hospital again for some surgical procedures," reads the letter. Despite repeated attempts, he was unavailable for comment.

If reports are to be believed, Bhujbal is already gearing up to present his first speech since his arrest in 2016. He is likely to give his speech on June 10 at an event of the Nationalist Congress Party in Pune.

"I am not well and will go back to KEM within 2-3 days," Bhujbal told mid-day. When asked about his plan to give a speech in Pune, he said, "There's a month left for that. If my condition improves, I might think about it."

And what about the allegations against him? "You are free to draw your own conclusions, I don't want to comment on it. If the allegations are correct, then the CT scan reports of the hospital should also be false," he signed off..

Case recap
The NCP leader was taken to JJ Hospital on March 2 after he complained of chest pain. When the diagnostic reports came clean, the hospital refused to admit him. Later, he complained of abdominal pain. On March 13, a special court allowed him to undergo two tests at KEM Hospital, under the supervision of Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and Gastroenterology departments, which JJ doesn't have. Since then, he has remained in the air-conditioned comfort of KEM.

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