Covid-19 patient raped by ambulance driver in Kerala: Police
Health authorities have given strict instructions that every ambulance should have more at least two employees and special care should be taken if occupants are only women patientsUpdated: Sep 06, 2020 17:54 IST
A coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patient was allegedly sexually assaulted by an ambulance driver in central Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district on the way to a hospital on Saturday night, officials said.
Police said the suspect was arrested within hours of the crime, which has triggered an outrage and a political bickering in the Left-ruled state.
Two women from a family tested Covid-19 positive on Saturday evening and they were taken to a health facility in an ambulance, police said. There were no family members in the vehicle in accordance with protocols laid down by the Kerala government.
While one of them was admitted to a dedicated Covid-19 facility, authorities advised the ambulance driver to take the second woman to another hospital --- just around 4km away.
But the driver took a detour and drove about 18km. On the way, he stopped the ambulance at a desolate place and raped the 22-year-old patient inside the vehicle, police said.
The driver threatened the woman with dire consequences if she spoke up. The woman told doctors about the incident upon being admitted to a hospital. Later, a medical examination confirmed the sexual assault.
State health and family welfare minister KK Shailaja called the incident “inhuman” and said “it should not have been happened”.
Police found that the 29-year-old suspect was involved in several criminal cases in the past, including a murder attempt.
Health officials said he was recruited on a temporary basis and that they were investigating how he got the job despite his criminal records. Officials in the health ministry said the department will order a probe.
“It appears to be a planned crime. The driver took a circuitous route…We have collected all the evidence. We will fast-track the trial to hand out stringent punishment to the accused,” KG Simon, superintendent of police, Pathanamthitta, said.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the incident brought shame to the state. “We want the health minister to quit owning responsibility,” BJP state president K Surendran said.
The accused, who is in quarantine, will be produced in a court through a virtual mode on Monday, police said.
In the wake of the incident, health authorities gave strict instructions that every ambulance should have at least two employees and special care should be taken if there were women patients on board. They also sought the help of police to verify antecedents of all drivers.
“It is a shocking incident. The ministry has taken measures to avoid such incidents. More health workers will be deployed in ambulances,” said Veena George, who represents Arnamula constituency and is a leader of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).