Doctors claim patient died due to late arrival at hospital

A first information report has been registered against a traffic mobile magistrate who allegedly held up an ambulance for over 20 minutes and removed its blue beacon lamp and hooter in Sopore area on December 10. Doctors at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) claimed that a patient on board the ambulance died due to the late arrival for treatment.

Superintendent of Police, Sopore, Abdul Qayoom told The Hindu that the Sopore police station entertained independent MLA Engineer Rashid’s complaint against traffic mobile magistrate Manzoor Ahmad Khan and some traffic police personnel on duty. The MLA urged the police to take cognisance of the statements of the family members of Abdul Rehman Dar of Yunisu and ambulance driver Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, who complained to the media that the 60-year-old patient died due to the “prolonged detention of the ambulance by the magistrate.”

The MLA has referred to statements of some doctors, who buttressed the family’s and the driver’s allegation that the ambulance, JK05A-3402, had been stopped by the mobile magistrate near Seelu, on Sopore-Kupwara Road, and let off only after its hooter and a blue lamp were removed and crushed under tyres.

“We have registered FIR No: 249/2013 dated 12-12-2013 under Section 409 of the Ranbir Penal Code [criminal breach of trust],” Mr. Qayoom said. “Since the Principal District and Sessions Judge of Baramulla and the Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla are concurrently holding two separate inquiries, we are waiting for their findings. We have inspected the scene of the alleged occurrence and recorded statements,” he said.

The State Law Department on Friday took up the matter with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Law Secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir confirmed to The Hindu that he wrote a letter to the Registrar-General with the request that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice for appropriate orders. “We have obtained the statements of the deceased person’s son, the ambulance driver and the doctors, besides the death certificate and other medical records,” Mr. Mir said.

Taking note of the media reports, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had directed the Inspector-General of Police to collect the facts and “punish all the guilty.” “Can’t believe the sheer bloody mindlessness of that action,” he posted on Twitter.

Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja, on Friday visited the District Hospital of Handwara. He recorded the statements of the doctors, Dar’s son, the ambulance driver besides the two traffic police personnel. The driver and Dar’s son Abdul Hameed maintained before the DC, and later in a conversation with The Hindu that the magistrate and his escort personnel forced the ambulance to stop for over 20 minutes. Mr. Bhat said the judicial magistrate and his men did not relent until he was forced to crush the blue beacon lights and the hooter under the tyre of his ambulance.

Contrary to the magistrate’s statement that there was no patient inside the ambulance, Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh and Dr. Sanaullah Qureshi of the District Hospital, Handwara, asserted that they treated Dar for about 16 hours and referred him to the SKIMS. “Since an inquiry is in progress against my conduct, I am barred from speaking to the media,” the magistrate said.