The Rajkot city police on Wednesday arrested two more doctors of Uday Shivanand Covid Hospital, the private hospital where a fire left five Covid-19 patients dead and six others injured on November 27. The total number of arrests in the case of alleged negligence by the hospital administration has gone up to five.
Dr Tejas Motivara (42) and Dr Digvijaysinh Jadeja (42), who were serving at the Uday hospital near Anand Bungalow Chowk in Mavdi area of the city were formally arrested at 9.45 am on Wednesday, police said.
JV Dhola, inspector of Rajkot taluka police station, who is the investigating officer in the case, said that Covid-19 tests of the two doctors were done on Tuesday. They were arrested after results of the tests returned negative on Wednesday.
“Both the accused are members of the board of directors of Gokul Life Care Private Limited (GLCPL), the company running the Uday Covid Hospital. Doctors serving under Dr Motivaras and Dr Jadeja were treating Covid-19 patients there… They were arrested as, prima facie, there is a case of negligence by the hospital administration,” Dhola told The Indian Express.
GLCPL, a company based in Rajkot, has its flagship Gokul Superspecialty Hospital on Vidyanagar Main Road. In May 2019, the company opened its second hospital on Kuvadva Road and on September 15 this year, GLCPL set up its third hospital for Covid care on the building of the Shivanand Mission General and Specialty Hospital near Anand Bungalow Chowk in Mavdi area.
The building is owned by Shivanand Mission, an NGO that runs an eye hospital in another part of the building. Trustees of Shivanand Mission say that GLCPL donated Rs 5 lakh for allowing it to set up a 57-bed Covid-19 hospital with 11 beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) on the first floor and 46 in the general ward.
A fire broke out in the ICU of the hospital on November 27, killing five Covid-19 patients. Police investigations have revealed that while four of them died due to burns, one died due to asphyxiation. Investigation also revealed that the emergency exit of the ICU was blocked by the hospital administration and that the hospital staff attempted to douse the fire but were not successful as they were not trained in firefighting.
Investigation also revealed that the ICU did not have proper air ventilation system as required by the National Building Code of India, 2016, and that its door was only a metre wide against the requirement of two metres.
On November 29, Malavaiyangar police filed a case against Dr Prakash Modha, his son Dr Vishal Modha, Dr Tejas Karamata, Dr Motivaras and Dr Jadeja under IPC sections 304A (causing deaths by negligence) and 114 (abettor present when crime is committed). Dr Praksh Modha, Dr Vishal and Dr Karamta were arrested on November 30 and were granted bail by a local court the next day.
Dr Prakash Modha, a leading neurosurgeon of the city, is the chairman of GLCPL while Dr Vishal, Dr Karamta, Dr Motivaras, Dr Jadeja, Dr Prakash Modha’s wife Chandrikaben and one Utpal Modha are members of the board of directors of the company. Dr Karamta is a leading intensive care specialist.
A special investigation team (SIT) headed by Manoharsinh Jadeja, deputy commissioner of police (zone-II) of Rajkot city police, is supervising the probe in the case. Additional chief secretary of Panchayat, Rural Housing and Rural Development department of Gujarat government, AK Rakesh, is also leading an inquiry into the incident. The state government has also appointed a judicial inquiry by Justice (retired) DA Mehta of the Gujarat High Court.
AK Rakesh had told the media on Saturday tha the fire could have been caused by an overheated humudifier of one of the ventilators in the ICU or by electric short-circuit. Police said the cause of fire would be known only after the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Rajkot, and electrical inspector submit their reports.
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