Home minister RR Patil on Wednesday promised to institute an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of Reuben Fernandes and Keenan Santos.
A group of family and friends of the deceased were invited for a talk with the minister at the Nationalist Congress Party state headquarters at Nariman Point. Present at the meeting were Avinash Solanki alias Bali, the main complainant, Valentine Silveira, a close friend of the deceased, Benjamin, Fernandes’ brother, and Santos’ brothers Shane and Sheldon.
Solanki told HT that the minister gave them a patient hearing and spoke to Pratap Digavkar, deputy commissioner of police, zone 9, about the progress in the investigation.
Silveira said the minister was told about the suspected negligence in Fernandes’ treatment at the Kokilaben Ambani Hospital. He said, “By October 25, Fernandes was talking normally, his reflexes were normal and he even tried to walk. Doctors told us that they would start physiotherapy. But his condition suddenly deteriorated by October 29 and he began vomiting blood.
“On October 31, when he required immediate surgery, the chief surgeon was on leave. We told them to arrange for a good surgeon from another hospital, but they refused saying it was against the rules. My friend died of excessive bleeding.”
Benjamin said the minister assured them that a panel of government doctors would conduct an inquiry. “He also said a doctor would be appointed to monitor the panel to ensure impartiality.”
The delegation also told Patil that the hospital had charged them Rs22 lakh for the treatment. “We could pay only Rs6 lakh. It was only after the intervention of friends and well wishers, the authorities reluctantly released my brother’s body,” Benjamin said.
Patil informed the delegation about the appointment of senior government pleader Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor in the case.
The group also put forward a demand for enactment of stronger laws to deal with eve-teasing and sexual harassment.