Nation Crime 08 Sep 2020 Outrage in Kerala ov ...

Outrage in Kerala over sexual assault on COVID patients

Published Sep 8, 2020, 1:37 pm IST
Updated Sep 8, 2020, 1:37 pm IST
Health workers and relatives prepare for a funeral of a COVID-19 patient, in Kozhikode. — PTI photo
 Health workers and relatives prepare for a funeral of a COVID-19 patient, in Kozhikode. — PTI photo

Back to back sexual assault on a Covid-19 patient and  woman who was under quarantine has shocked Kerala, with state government now directing health authorities to strictly avoid putting women alone in ambulances and ensure that health workers accompany them.

The government direction came in the wake of the rape of a 19 year old Covid-19 patient by an ambulance driver in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala on Saturday night.  Another shocking incident has also come to light at Pangode in Thiruvananthapuram district in which a junior health inspector has been accused of sexually harassing a woman who required Covid – 19 negative certificate to rejoin her duty post quarantine.

In the first case, the ambulance driver Naufal, 29 has been arrested by police and charged with rape, assault, Prevention of  SC/ST (Atrocities) Act and violation of Covid 19 safety protocol.  In the second case, the junior health inspector Pradeep was taken into custody and charged with sexual assault.

With the two incidents causing huge embarrassment to the government, health minister K K Shailaja directed the authorities to remove Naufal from 108 ambulance services and suspend Pradeep from service pending inquiry.

The back to back incidents have caused outrage in the state with many asking the government to scale up the safety of patients and those under observation.

According to police, the Pathanamthitta case appears to be a crime preplanned by the ambulance driver. On Saturday at 10 pm Naufal,  put the victim in the ambulance. Instead of taking her to Pandalam hospital which is just 10 minutes away from where the pickup place,  she was put in a different ambulance from Adoor General hospital along with another Covid – 19 patient.

After dropping the other patient at the local taluk hospital, the driver took the ambulance to an isolated area and sexually assaulted the victim.

She secretly recorded the statement of the ambulance in which he is heard pleading with the woman to not reveal the incident to any one or else he would lose his job. The police said the audio clip will help in proving involvement.

Naufal has a criminal past. Cases of attempt to murder and assault are pending against him. He got recruited without producing the mandatory police clearance certificate, which is a grave lapse.  As per norms those being hired for 108 ambulance services, have to produce police clearance certificates.

In the second incident, the junior inspector Pradeep had asked the woman who was in quarantine in Thiruvananthapuram to come to his flat in Bharathanoor  to collect the Covid 19 negative certificate.

According to the victim’s complaint, her hands were tied and she was kept in the house through the night and sexually assaulted. The health inspector threatened her that he would get a case registered against her for jumping quarantine and get her arrested by police.

The victim is working as a home nurse in Malappuram district. She was asked to go under quarantine after she returned from Malappuram.

Meanwhile the opposition Congress and BJP stepped up their attack against the government for failing to protect Covid-19 patients. They said there was a grave lapse on the part of authorities in recruiting ambulance drivers with criminal background.



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