It is heartening to know that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sent a letter expressing regret to the family of Sumit Verma, who died because he was denied timely medical help owing to traffic restrictions during Dr. Singh’s visit to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. No doubt, the loss to the family cannot be compensated. VIPs can help the common man in a big way if they instruct their security personnel to be lenient when the situation demands. In fact, there is no need to block the roads when they travel as they are protected by dozens of cars accompanying them.
How the common man’s life can be left undisturbed without compromising the safety of VVIPs is a million dollar question. The security personnel who denied Sumit Verma access to the emergency ward should be questioned. The loss of an innocent life can’t be compensated with an apology.
We understand that in view of serious threats, tight security norms are needed for VVIPs but the authorities must learn to minimise disturbance to people. VVIPs are expected to protect the common man, not hinder his daily life.
More often than not, VIP visits become a source of trouble for the common man. In many cases, traffic is either diverted or stopped. The suffering caused to us is indescribable. If Ministers are truly concerned about the common man, they can restrict their movement. They can avoid travelling to functions like inaugurating a new building, participating in a seminar or receiving honorary degrees. They would do well to sit in their office and work. When a visit is unavoidable, they can make use of helicopters.
D. Samuel Lawrence,
Don’t the authorities know that an emergency comes without warning? How can a patient be denied access to the emergency ward of a hospital, whatever the reason? A profuse apology by the Prime Minister and a report will see the end of the PGI episode.
I am reminded of a similar incident in Ranchi a few years ago. Traffic was cordoned off at different entry points due to a VVIP visit and a patient lost his life because of the abnormal delay in reaching the hospital. I am pained to see that we never learn from our mistakes and such incidents continue to recur. Shame on our system, where sub chalta hai.
Dr. Singh’s expression of regret is welcome. I hope the unfortunate incident will open the eyes of our leaders for whose movement, vehicles — even pedestrians — are stopped to clear the roads. Such representatives of people, who are afraid of mingling with the common man and use special planes, bullet-proof cars and scores of security personnel, embarrass even the erstwhile Maharajas.
Although I do not want to comment on the incident at PGI, as the hospital’s version varies from that of the patient’s relatives, I cannot forget the traffic hold-up that was caused in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, in the mid-1950s. I was not allowed to cross the road to purchase a drug which I needed urgently because the Chief Minister was visiting the area. Even time has not withered the old system.
Will departmental inquiries be initiated against the security personnel and the hospital authorities in Chandigarh? Are they accountable or were they just doing what was expected of them? Why do leaders who break the security cordon to get votes deploy rings and rings of security around them after coming to power?
Other than expressing regret, what has Dr. Singh done for the patient’s family? Will he downsize his cavalcade?
It is time to review the security protocol related to VVIP visits and movement, to ensure that the common man’s basic and emergency needs are not overlooked.
It is important that the VVIPs reduce their movement and visits to specialty hospitals and other important public facilities and utilities.
It is not the VIPs who are responsible for such tragedies. It is the security personnel who create scenes and drama in the name of security. While they cannot ignore the threat to the VIPs they are tasked to protect, they should use their common sense and take decisions here and there for the sake of people. Day in and day out, we find people suffering due to traffic jams caused by VIP movement. We are used to them and take the happenings in our stride. We fail to stop them in the very beginning and they lead to serious incidents.