Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit was the prime mover behind the proposal to shift the 23-year-old gangrape victim to Singapore, government sources revealed on Thursday.
A man walks past the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre where Indian gang-rape survivor is undergoing treatment in Singapore. The 23-year-old student who was gang-raped was flown to the hospital for treatment. (Reuters)
On Sunday, the CM spoke to union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and pushed for providing the best medical care to the victim.
The next day, in a late night meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dikshit made a case for sending the victim abroad and also talked about the widespread anger in the Capital over the brutalisation of the woman.
And in a late-night move on Wednesday, the victim was whisked away to the IGI airport and flown to Mount Elizabeth Hospital, one of Asia's best centres for organ transplant.
“I’m glad they were able to shift her. We would like to do everything we can to save the young girl,” the CM told HT.
The move to shift the victim was set in motion on Tuesday. The first step was to consult reputed heart surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, Medanta super-speciality hospital.
His advice was needed on two crucial matters — the country the victim could be safely shifted to and if she, in her condition, could undertake a high-altitude journey.
Oxygen pressure is low on high altitudes, which can cause breathing problem, and the victim was on ventilator support to help her breathe.
Trehan, who was reportedly horrified by the extent of the injuries, voted in favour of providing best medical care to the victim.
Once he gave the go-ahead, Medanta launched what has come to be known as "a medical commando operation" where critical patients are airlifted. Dr Trehan did say "she could not have gone beyond Singapore".
An ambulance carrying the Delhi gangrape survivor to the airport. She has been taken to Singpore for better treatment. HT/Raj K Raj
Medanta got in touch with Club One Air, an air charter company that handles medical emergencies. "Various agencies of the government were in touch with us on Wednesday and Medanta was co-ordinating the equipment they needed for the air ICU," Radhe Shyam, Club One's operations manager, told HT.
At Wednesday's cabinet meeting, the ministers were informed of the decision to involve Dr Trehan but details were kept secret. A leak could have brought thousands of people to Safdarjung Hospital, where the victim was admitted. The plan was fleshed out after the meeting.
After Medanta's call, Club One readied a CRJ 100 -- a twin-engine business jet with luxury seats. To provide a bed for the victim, the 16-seater was reconfigured to 12 seats.
The final booking for the air ambulance, signed by KK Pathak, a joint secretary in the ministry of home affairs, came at 5.30pm on Wednesday, six hours before the take off.
Documentation was the key and while the ministry of external affairs provided passports and visas to the victim and her family, the government helped Club One procure over-flight permission from the three countries en route: Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
The charter flight would cost "between Rs. 60 and Rs. 75 lakh", said a Club One official.
Before the victim was wheeled out of Safdarjung at about 10.30pm, the Delhi Police worked out a plan that included sending decoy ambulances.
"We provided them two ambulances with drivers and stretchers. The rest was all planned by them," a hospital source said.