Who knows it better than the doms at various medical colleges in the city that a human body has greater value after death? It may sound odd to many of us who do not know that these doms play an active role in the medical education as they sell bone sets that are illegally smuggled into the city from Burdwan to the undergraduate medical students for their study.
An investigation done by the ‘Millennium Post’ has brought to light a startling revelation that the bone sets packed inside boxes are being smuggled into the city in vegetable laden trucks.
The trucks that bring the bone sets from Katwa in Burdwan offload them in Mechhua Bazar, Burra Bazaar etc. The doms from various medical colleges collect the bone sets from these markets and sell them after what they call a “disinfecting process” of the bones by treating them with some chemicals.
When a correspondent in a disguise of a customer met a dom from a city’s medical college, he narrated the entire modus operandi as how a racket has been operating from the Burdwan district.
He said that many poor people in the remote areas of Katwa are unable to arrange logs for the cremation of dead bodies due to financial reasons and often dump the bodies into the river Bhagirathi in half burnt state. A racket has been operating that fishes out the dead bodies by a large fishing net and keeps the bodies in the river in a submerged state for months so that fishes and insects can eat the flesh which still clings to the bones until it gets transformed into a skeleton. Later, the skeletons are fished out of the water, cut into pieces before treating them with various chemicals. Each bone set is boxed up in separate containers and is loaded in the trucks that carry the vegetables to the city.
The doms at various medical colleges in the city visit Katwa and make a payment of around Rs 9,000 for each bone set. Apart from buying the bone sets the doms also have to pay Rs 800 per bone set as a carrying charge. He claimed that they treat the bone sets in the solution of hydrogen peroxide and formalin to disinfect them.
The hydrogen peroxide solution also gives a good colour to the bone sets. Later, they sell each bone sets to the students at an approximate cost of between Rs 15,000-18,000 depending on the quality of the bones with a handsome profit of Rs 4,000-7,000 per bone set. Whether the method adopted by these doms to kill the germs is a proper process remains unanswered.
The whole process of buying bone sets from the doms at the medical colleges is an open secret as there is no legal way to collect the bone sets, the medical students need to depend on the doms to buy the bones for their study.
Dr. AK Maity who teaches the budding doctors in the city said as there is no legal way to collect the bones sets it has become a practice in the state. Both the Centre and the state formulate a policy there legalising the whole process of bone sets with the awareness about the donation of the body for medical studies that problem may be solved.
He added that once the bone sets were exported out of our country, but in 1987, the Centre banned the export of bone sets and the Medical Council of India had also issued guidelines saying that dissecting the human body is not compulsory for the medical students during examination. Earlier, all the medical students had to compulsorily dissect the bodies but nowadays the students only identify the nerve, arteries, and other organs in a human body during the examination.
A city based general surgeon, Dr Anup Kumar Maity said: “Dissecting a body is essential for those who aspires to become a surgeon but nowadays the students do not do it themselves. Even it is difficult for the teachers to make the students learn about various things if they do not dissect.”
Dr Sajal Biswas, General Secretary of the Service Doctors Forum, a voluntary organisation of doctors said: “The crisis of bones can be addressed by setting up libraries in medical colleges as it is found in China. The medical students get the bones from the libraries there.”