More than a month after a fire in the Intensive Critical Care Unit of Shrey Hospital killed eight patients, over 500 citizens and social activists have now appealed for a CBI probe in the matter. The appeal comes weeks after families of the victims had sent representations to the state government and police department for a speedy, impartial probe.
The signatories that include civil society members such as Teesta Setalvad, Manjula Pradeep, Prasad Chacko, among several others, have stated in their appeal at large that “For a fire of this nature, which took the lives of 8 helpless patients, which is likely to have occurred due to wilful negligence of fire safety rules and procedures, the charges should have been far more stringent. We feel that section 304 of the CrPC should have been invoked, and the failure of the police not to have done so raises serious questions regarding their intent to do a free and fair investigation…there seems to be a conspiracy to get the hospital management off the hook. In these circumstances we join and support the families of the victims in their demand for a transfer of the investigation of this case to the CBI.”
The families of the victims have also alleged that three of the four CCTV cameras were not functioning, and the view of the fourth one was blocked by an opaque curtain. The signatories pointed out that inadequacies in fire safety mechanisms and failure of preliminary standard rescue procedures “make the highest level of the hospital management criminally culpable.”
It has also been emphasised that though the trustee-administrator of the hospital (Bharat Mahant) was rightly arrested initially, he was subsequently enlarged on bail, and instead two Class-4 employees, who were on duty in the ICU when the fire broke out, were arrested.
“This certainly seems to be an effort of the hospital management to shift the blame from themselves on to the lowest level staff,” the signatories highlighted.
The FIR registered in the case charged the accused with offences under IPC sections 304A (causing death by negligence not amounting to murder), 336 (rash and negligent act endangering human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by negligent or rash act as to endanger human life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering human life).
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