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Hooghly: Exploiting people’s misery for political and religious gain is nothing new in India, including Bengal.

Yet, holding camps right on the premises of a public healthcare facility promising the cure to ailments using oil and water “purified” by religious prayers is a little too much.

This is what has been going on for the last six months at Bighati health sub-centre at Singur in Hooghly district. A gang of people of Christian faith hold the camp every Saturday and has been attracting over a hundred people suffering from ailments as critical as cancer.

People, who come to the “miracle cure” camp, are asked to bring oil and water in two separate bottles. At the start of the camp, they are asked open the bottles while singing praises to Lord Jesus.

Then, each individual patient is asked to touch the spot of ailment in his / her body and pray to Jesus for a cure. After this, they are asked to go home with the “purified” bottles and drink the water and oil once every day.

News about the camp has spread in all the villages around Bighati through a word of mouth and people of various religious faiths have started attending the camp although there is no empirical evidence of anyone being cured.

“I heard about this from a fellow villager and hence I have come here today,” said Pratyush Roy, a man in his early 50’s.

On being confronted by journalists as to how come such a “miracle cure” camp is being held right on the premises of a healthcare facility, the leader of the organising gang, Ashim Karak pleaded that there is no harm in it.

“If poor people are getting cured by consuming water and oil purified by Jesus, what is your problem? A general physician visits the sub-centre once every two weeks whereas there are patients in thousands,” Karak said.

Chandan Debnath of Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha, a body of rationalists, said that the gang is exploiting the ignorance and helplessness of the people. “This also betrays the absence of real healthcare in the area,” he said.

On being contacted, the chief medical officer of health of Hooghly, Subhrangshu Chakraborty, said that the “miracle camp” is nothing but a superstitious activity and the district health department will lodge an FIR against the organisers.

He, however, avoided clarifying as to why only one doctor attends the Baghati health sub-centre and that too only once every two weeks.