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Stabbed girl dies as poor phone network prevents timely help

A renowned chef has said his mother took a victim of a stabbing attack in New Delhi to the hospital after calls to the police and ambulance failed because of bad network and bystanders failed to help.

delhi Updated: Oct 16, 2015 13:02 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times
murder,girl murdered,Airtel
Representative photo. A 16-yr-old girl was murdered by her step-father in Delhi on October 14, 2015.

Acclaimed chef Manu Chandra triggered a cell phone call drop debate on Thursday after he tweeted that a young girl with deep stab wounds died because his 63-year-old mother couldn’t get through to police for help despite repeated calls.

Chandra said his mother, Kumkum, on Wednesday morning helped the girl stabbed by her stepfather in Delhi’s posh Chanakyapuri area reach a private hospital where doctors declared her dead.

“Desperately trying to call police and ambulance the mother could do nothing because #airtelnetwork’s never there. Life lost. Airtel rich,” he tweeted.

Chandra said his mother tried using the other phone with a Vodafone connection. “The call connected but the signal was so bad that the cops couldn’t hear her.”

An Airtel spokesperson declined to comment when HT sought a response, as did Vodafone.

The allegation came amid the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendations asking operators to pay a penalty to customer for each call drop.

An officer investigating the murder said three calls were made to the police control room regarding the crime. “Our record shows the first call was made by someone from the victim’s family. Another PCR call was made by a neighbour, who is from the Chandra family.”

Kumkum said she spent over five minutes trying to call police after she found four wounded people, including the girl with a knife placed close by, lying outside the servant quarters of a house behind her home on Malcha Marg around 6:30am.

“Her mother and brother were screaming for help. They kept begging that the girl is still breathing and if she’s taken to the hospital she will be saved,” she said.

But the woman was in a fix as there was no one to drive her car. Her domestic help, who is not a trained driver, had to finally take the girl to Primus hospital. The private hospital didn’t take calls from HT on Thursday despite repeated attempts for a response.

A police officer said the girl’s mother and stepfather, also wounded after his step-son retaliated with an iron rod, were taken to RML hospital.

The stepfather allegedly stabbed the girl and her brother with a knife after a tiff with their mother, Renu, who works as a help in the Japanese embassy in Chanakyapuri.

The spokesperson of RML hospital said the couple and their son were admitted there. “The girl’s body was brought to the hospital and sent to Lady Hardinge Medical College for an autopsy.”

Chef Chandra said the girl probably could have lived had his mother’s calls to police reached them on time.

He said residents of the area had twice written to Airtel to improve connectivity.

However, there had been allegations that upscale areas have poor cell phone connectivity because people living there don’t want mobile telecom towers in the neighbourhood, fearing health hazards from radiation.

Chandra and his mother were shocked by the “insensitivity of people” in helping those in distress. “A senior citizen came forward to help a dying girl, others kept watching … Reminds us of the Nirbhaya incident when so many people drove past the girl lying half-dead on the road,” he said.

First Published: Oct 15, 2015 17:06 IST