The alleged rape of a COVID-19 patient in an ambulance by its driver, in Pathanamthitta late on Saturday, has caused public outrage and exposed the Health Department to criticism from the Opposition.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala blamed the Health Department for the crime. The department had commandeered the ambulance to transport the patient from Pandalam to a COVD first-line treatment centre (FLTC) at Adoor. There was no woman health worker on board with the patient.
The driver had a criminal background. The police had named him as an accused in a murder case. However, the health officials appeared oblivious to his past. Mr. Chennithala said the Health Department had to answer for its callousness.
The incident triggered protests in front of the District Medical Office, Pathanamthitta. Congress and Bharathiya Janata Party workers staged separate demonstrations.
BJP State president said Health Minister K.K. Shylaja should resign over the incident. The Health Department had no business sending an ambulance to collect a woman patient without a health worker on board. The driver had taken a detour from the usual route to rape the patient in a remote locality. The plight of the patient reflected the government attitude to the pandemic-affected public.
The State did not care for the security of women and children and exposed them to crime wilfully, he said. Former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan also condemned the incident.
Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson M.C. Josephine told The Hindu that she had sought a report from the District Police Chief, Pathanamthitta, on the incident. The commission has also initiated an enquiry on its own. Ms. Josephine said the Health Department had commandeered the ambulance through a private agency. The government should blacklist the firm.