Friday, June 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM gets new knee-joint; may walk tomorrow

Schoolchildren pray for the health of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as he undergoes surgery on his right knee in Mumbai on Thursday.
Schoolchildren pray for the health of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as he undergoes surgery on his right knee in Mumbai on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Mumbai, June 7
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee underwent a right knee-joint replacement surgery at the Breach Candy Hospital here today and could take his first tentative steps sometime tomorrow or the day after.

“His condition is quite good and we will try to get him out of bed by tomorrow or the day after,” Dr Chittaranjan Ranawat, who flew in here with his team from New York to perform the surgery, told mediapersons at the state government-owned Sahyadri guest house.

“The Prime Minister is comfortable and doing well after the surgery which lasted for a little over an hour,” Dr Ranawat who had performed a left knee-joint replacement surgery on Mr Vajpayee on October 10 last, said.

The entire surgical procedure, including preliminary check-ups and administration of spinal anaesthesia, took about 145 minutes, Dr Ranawat who is Director of the Centre for Total Joint Replacement at New York’s Lennox Hill Hospital explained.

In any case, Mr Vajpayee’s left knee operated last year was now without pain and he had no problem with it, Dr Ranawat said.

The operation procedure was similar to that adopted during the surgery on the Prime Minister’s left knee and the rest and recovery period would take eight to 10 days, he said.

Asked how long the knee-joint implant would last, Dr Ranawat replied: “With experiences of implant in the last 10 to 20 years, it can be said that 90 per cent of them are still functioning and in about 10 per cent cases, surgical intervention may be required after 10 to 15 years”.

Dr Ranawat said the Prime Minister was numb waist-down due to anaesthesia during the operation, but otherwise alert. Physiotherapy sessions would start within a day or two depending on how Mr Vajpayee felt. On the duration of the physiotherapy, he said it would continue for three to six months depending on the treatment.

Meanwhile, squatting on the ground or sitting cross legged Indian style was not advisable for the Prime Minister, Dr Ranawat said. Some exercises had begun to maintain movement of the calves and ankle through the help of machines, he said.

Asked if the Prime Minister talked to him during the operation, he said as a surgeon he was not supposed to chat with the patient. Queried on the suitable diet after the surgery, he said he was not a specialist in this area and added “but logically one should be lighter in weight and we do say it without any exception”.

“Everybody in this room should be lighter as it’s good for the heart, stomach and gall bladder, prevents cancer of the colon and one can walk lightly too,” he remarked amidst peals of laughter.

Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan said: “The operation was successful and the Prime Minister is cheerful.” He, however, told journalists at the hospital that visitors may not be allowed for the next 48 hours. Dr Ranawat added during his press conference: “It is a good idea not to bother him for the next two to three days.”

President K.R. Narayanan, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander were among those who wished Mr Vajpayee a speedy recovery. The President and the First Lady, Mrs Usha Narayanan, also sent a bouquet to Mr Vajpayee.

Messages were also received from Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi, former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda among a host of other politicians and governors and Chief Ministers of various states, the official spokesman Ashok Tandon said.

Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, who flew in from the Capital late last night, called on Mr Vajpayee at the hospital and was with him till he was wheeled to the operation theatre.

A group of around 40 school children prayed for Mr Vajpayee’s speedy recovery all through the period. They stood braving the scorching sun for more than four hours and left only on hearing from doctors that the surgery had been successful.

BJP workers offered prayers at the Mumbadevi temple here and also performed a “maha aarti” at the temple to invoke the blessings of this island city’s presiding deity, for the speedy recovery of their “ladle neta” (affectionate and favourite leader). UNI


Reyat questions jurisdiction of Canada’s court

Washington, June 7
Inderjit Singh Reyat, the third accused in the Air-India bombing case, today caused a flutter in the British Columbia Supreme Court at Vancouver by declining to walk into the court premises voluntarily to be charged with the murder of 329 persons, but gave in once the court provided an assurance that his appearance would not prejudice his right to question its jurisdiction.

Reyat was included in the list of accused in the case along with Ripudam Singh Malik and another person two days ago after the British Government gave its nod for his prosecution in the case.

Reyat, a dual citizen of the UK and Canada, was extradited in connection with the Tokyo bomb case and convicted. UK’s permission was required to include him in the list of accused. 

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