Security guard, secretary of Tardeo society booked for harassing nurses of Mumbai Hospital; society says complaint false

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Updated on Oct 30, 2020 09:08 PM IST
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ByCharul Shah and Manish K Pathak, Mumbai

Tardeo police on Wednesday night booked a security guard and secretary of a south Mumbai housing society for restricting the movement of nurses of Bhatia Hospital and harassing them. The Tardeo Court Cooperative Housing society has countered the allegations, claiming a false case has been registered against them.

Around 24 nurses working at Bhatia Hospital, which is a Covid-19 treatment centre, have been given accommodation by the hospital administration in three of their four flats in the society (one flat is under litigation). One of the nurses, Jency Thomas, on Wednesday filed a complaint with Tardeo police station, against the security guard and secretary of the building for restricting their movements. Thomas alleged that on Wednesday when she tried to move out of the society with her colleague, they were stopped by the security guard, who claimed that they were not permitted to go out. The nurses were told that they would have to take permission from the secretary of the society Kartik Mehta if they chose to step out of the property.

The nurses returned to their room and called for help from the hospital administration. In her complaint, Thomas claimed that they were allowed to leave their rooms only after the head of the human resources department of the hospital, Nitin Warde intervened with the help of police.

Denying the allegation that the nurses were stopped on Wednesday evening, Mehta said, “The incident is wrongly portrayed, as the hospital forcefully brought 12 more nurses to the building for their accommodation, which is why the security guard too had called on the police helpline. When we narrated the forceful entry, the police did not register our complaint, but registered a case against us,” Mehta alleged.

Warde claimed that the nurses have been facing harassment from the society ever since the pandemic began in March. “There have been several instances of such harassment and a written complaint was also given to the police,” he said.

The society claimed there has been a dispute between the society and hospital over accommodation of nurses. “There had been an issue for use of the flats of Bhatia Hospital. The flats were being used by nurses, whereby the hospital created a dormitory sort of system which is what the society had objected to,” said Mehta.”The nurses were given accommodation in the society since lockdown began. However, they were removed as the society objected. Later, in September, the hospital again wanted to accommodate nurses in the flats. After we reached an amicable solution, we had allowed 12 nurses to stay in three flats,” Mehta said.

In the letter written by Warde on behalf of the hospital to the Tardeo police on August 20, several instances of harassment from the society towards the nurses were highlighted. “Due to the nationwide lockdown as well as suspension of train services, doctors, para-medical and nursing staff had to be additionally accommodated in the said residential premises. Although proper care was taken by the management of the said hospital, the office bearers of the society started raising objections and created unprecedented hurdles for the staff to continue their stay, including restricting their movements in and out of the society owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation,” the letter stated.

In another letter written on September 28, the hospital continued to highlight continuous harassment of the nurses as they were not allowed to enter the building. The hospital had last month requested the deputy commissioner of police and assistant commissioner of police to book the society members for constant harassment of the nurses. It also requested the police to grant them protection.

Mehta denied the allegations of harassment of the nurses, saying they have been given all support possible. “We have taken good care of them and a separate lift was allotted for them,” Mehta claimed.

Nitin Warde said the flats were not being used as dormitory and are being used for accommodation of doctors and nurses for more than 30 years. “We used to give the flats for accommodation of doctors. Subsequently, when we got Mumbai-based doctors, we started giving accommodation to nurses. The society took objection since the beginning of the pandemic and nurses were asked to leave the premises overnight in April,” Warde said. “On Wednesday, after taking due certificate from BMC over purpose of use of the flat, 12 nurses with the help of hospital management entered the society. We tried to submit a letter to the manager, but it was not accepted. This was all video recorded. The society guard later came to the flat and threatened them, saying they would not be allowed to go out now and called the police. In front of the police, the issue was discussed and after verification, the complaint was registered,” Warde said. Warde said the society had been resisting the accommodation of nurses since the pandemic began.

“The hospital owns three flats in the society since 1963, and hospital’s staffers live there. There have been issues since the beginning of the pandemic as the society feared for the health of senior citizens and small children who stay there. However, police had intervened and resolved the issues,” said Firoz Bagwan, senior inspector of Tardeo police station.

“On Wednesday, the complainant was going out to buy food after returning from duty. The watchman stopped her. Following the statement of the nurse, a case was registered under section 341 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and a notice under section 41 was sent to the watchman and secretary of the building, instructing them to be present at the police station for inquiry,” Bagwan added.

Refuting the allegation that society made a complaint against the hospital for their forceful entry of the nurses in the society, he said, “The complaint was made by the nurse only, about restraining her from leaving the society premises, which we have registered . After proper investigation, a report will be submitted to the court.”

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Monday, November 29, 2021