Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Doctors at the post-mortem department of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi may soon add metal detectors to their set of surgical tools in apprehension of another body bomb rerun.
The management of the state-run hospital has decided to convene a meeting and discuss the issue with senior doctors and security in-charge. It will approach the health department for necessary funds.
This safety tizzy has been prompted by a bizarre January 9 autopsy, when a 2kg improvised explosive device (IED) was found planted in the abdomen of a CRPF jawan who was killed in a Maoist ambush in Latehar three days before. It took two bomb squads more than four hours to disarm the IED, extract it from the body and then subject it to controlled explosion on the hospital premises.
RIMS director Tulsi Mahto, who earlier headed the forensic medicine and post-mortem department of the institute, confirmed the metal detector proposal while speaking to The Telegraph and said that extra precaution was the need of the hour.
"Autopsy is a medico-legal formality in case of unnatural or accidental deaths. Ever since our post-mortem team received a body with a bomb, we started thinking what should be done to prevent a disaster in the future. So far, we have zeroed in on handheld metal detectors, which can easily be provided to doctors," he said.
Mahto indicated that besides handheld metal detectors, they were looking at other gadgets that could give away the presence of explosives inside a body. "One of these will be at the disposal of the post-mortem department and regularly used before examinations," he added.
Anirudha Singh, a retired IAF officer, pointed out that handheld detectors just inform about presence of metal inside a body. "However, high-resolution X-ray machines, like those used at airports, can be more precise in identifying explosives inside bodies," he said.
CRPF DIG B.K. Sharma seconded the suggestion. "Once metal is spotted with the help of a detector, the X-ray machine can be used to assess its hazardous nature," he said.
Security in-charge of the hospital Bablu Khan said the RIMS management was thinking in the right direction.
"We have more than 1,000 patients and over 2,000 attendants, doctors and paramedical staff at any given time of the day. A bomb in a body for autopsy is an unprecedented incident here or anywhere. What if the body bomb went off that day. There would have been so many casualties. We cannot take the matter lightly," he said.
According to Khan, RIMS currently has 10 handheld metal detectors and one doorframe metal detector, which are used as a security filter when visitors enter the hospital. "Some more such gadgets can be provided to doctors who conduct post-mortem. It will keep everyone safe," he added.
Should all hospitals in state be equipped with bomb detectors?