A man carries his 10-year old son's body on a motorcycle arranged by a Good Samaritan, even as an ambulance stands in the background, in Tirupati. (DC)
Tirupati: A mourning father was forced to carry the body of his son away from the SVR Ruia Government General Hospital here on a motorbike that was arranged by a Good Samaritan in the pre-dawn darkness of Tuesday, as he was unable to pay the hefty fee demanded by private ambulance operators.
Ten-year-old Jesava from Penagalur in Annamaiah district died during treatment for a liver disorder. Penagulur is about 100 km from Tirupati.
Jesava, son of Narasimhulu, orchard worker and native of Konduru ST Colony in Penagulur, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday. He died at about 11 pm on Monday and the hospital handed over the body to his father at around 2 am on Tuesday.
Narasimhulu reportedly waited for the government hearse from the Mahaprasthanam service to take the body home but it never arrived. He approached a private ambulance driver who demanded Rs 20,000 for the 100 km trip.
The ambulance operators formed a syndicate and did not heed the pleas of Narasimhulu, who earns Rs 4,000 a month, for a lower fee. Narasimhulu in desperation called his orchard owner Shrikant Yadav, who organised an ambulance through his friend Nand Kishore who runs a fleet of 10 vehicles.
When Kishore’s ambulance went to pick up the body, the private operators chased away the driver and reportedly manhandled Narasimhulu.
Kishore’s driver then arranged for a two-wheeler to shift the body. Narsimhulu carried the body of his son in his arms and went on the motorbike to the outskirts, from where he boarded Nand Kishore’s ambulance.
Speaking to reporters over phone, Srikanth Yadav said Narasimhulu had an acre of mango orchard sanctioned by the Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy government but it was not enough to feed his family of four. Narasimhulu used to work his his orchard to earn some money.
He said Narasimhulu was told the government-run Mahaprasthanam hearse service would be available from 7 am to 7 pm.
Kishore, who videotaped the episode, said he tried to highlight the role of the ambulance mafia. "There are several ambulances that provide services at a low cost. The syndicate stationed at the Ruia Hospital does not allow anyone inside the hospital," he said.