March 1, 2021 3:06:28 am
A petitioner in the Shrey Hospital fire case of Ahmedabad, which had lead to the death of eight Covid-19 patients on August 6 last year, has claimed that the chargesheet filed by police in the case is “hogwash” and allegedly attempts to protect the trustee and administrator of the hospital.
Advocate Suhel Tirmizi, whose wife Ayesha Tirmizi was one of the eight victims who died in the blaze, is one of the petitioners in the case. He claimed that the police chargesheet intentionally shields Bharat Mahant, the trustee and administrator of Shrey Hospital, from any culpability.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), ‘A’ division in Ahmedabad, Milap Patel, who is also the investigating officer in the case, said, “The chargesheet was filed in December last year. Till now, no court hearing date has been announced.”
Police filed a 400-page chargesheet in the case on December 14, 2020. However it was not made public as courts were shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to sources, the summary of the chargesheet states that as many as six staffers of Shrey Hospital — including two doctors, one ward boy, two nurses and a male servant — were present on the third floor and in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward on the fourth floor of the hospital at the time of the incident. Two more persons employed as janitors were also present outside the ICU. As per the chargesheet, none of the eight persons present at the ICU and the third floor were trained in implementing fire safety protocol.
“The chargesheet is hogwash to save a powerful person who was with the Congress party till 2019 and later joined the BJP. Police have not given us the actual chargesheet yet, claiming that it’s kept in a locker due to its sensitive nature. However, we recently got hold of a xerox copy of the 400-page document,” said Tirmirzi.
On the morning of August 6, a fire broke out in the ICU ward of Shrey Hospital in Navrangpura area of Ahmedabad, which resulted in the death of eight Covid patients — five men and three women aged between 42-82 years. The 50-bed hospital had 49 Covid-19 patients and had been designated as a Covid-19 hospital in May 2020. The hospital was later denotified of its Covid-speciality status and the remaining 41 Covid patients were shifted to the civic-run SVP hospital on Ashram Road.
CCTV footage had shown that the sparks had first started in a ventilator and gradually spread within the ICU ward. Initial probe by police and fire department officials had revealed that the hospital had only one entry and exit and no outlet for ventilation was available in the ICU.
On August 10, nearly five days after the fire incident, an FIR was lodged at Navrangpura police station against Bharat Mahant, trustee and administrator of Shrey Hospital, under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (a) for causing death by negligence, 336 for negligent or rash act to endanger human life, 337 for causing hurt to a person by doing rash or negligent act that endangers human life and 338 for causing grievous hurt by act endangering human life.
Mahant was arrested on August 12 and on August 25, two other administration staffers at the hospital — Babu Ahir and Mahesh Odedara — were also arrested.
The government had announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to the next of kin of each of the deceased victims and set up an inquiry led by two bureaucrats, Sangita Singh and Mukesh Puri. An inquiry commission headed by Justice KA Puj was also appointed and was to file its report in three months.
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