It has become a practice with all high-heeled prisoners to feign sickness and get themselves admitted to hospital. Ramneet Singh, alias Romi, son of a Punjab Police officer and one of the key accused in the African student Yannick Nihangaza assault case, has used the same time-tested formula to come out of the confines of the jail he is lodged in since his surrender.
Apparently in collusion with the jail and civil hospital doctors, Romi has spent less time in the prison and more in the hospital.
Brought to the Hoshiarpur jail on July 12, he was admitted to the civil hospital with an orthopaedic problem two days later. He was discharged on July 25 but on July 28, he was again referred to the hospital. Dr Raj Kumar, who is attending on him, said Romi suffered from "adjustment disorder" and "depression", conditions which could be treated only in a hospital.
Dr Pawan Kumar, the medical officer in the prison, justified his referral, stating that Romi was undergoing "acute stress" and had also developed some skin problem. Jail superintendent BS Beesla said he acted on the doctor's advice.
"A board of doctors in the civil hospital decides whether a jail inmate is to be admitted or not. Had they not deemed it to be a fit case, the doctors would have sent the patient back," he maintained.
Senior medical officer (SMO) Dr Anil Mahindra said a panel comprising Dr Raj Kumar and Dr Tek Raj Bhatia had taken a decision in this case.
When the HT reporter visited the prisoners' ward in the hospital, Romi was the only patient admitted there. Two security men in plain clothes were also relaxing on their beds even as the gate of the room was open and no other security guard was in sight.
Romi had surrendered before the police on July 7 in a criminal case registered against him and nine others at the division number 7 police station in Jalandhar for thrashing the 23-year-old Burundi national, a student of Lovely Professional University.
Yannick suffered grave head injuries and has since been lying in a vegetative state in a Patiala hospital. The Punjab Police had recently sought Interpol's assistance for the extradition of two other accused who flew to Australia after the incident.
The police had maintained that the accused were hand-in-glove with each other and ran this interstate kidney racket.