A police constable posted with the Government Railway Police (GRP) recounted to the Sessions Court on Monday how he had ferried acid attack victim Preeti Rathi to three hospitals in two hours after she was attacked at Bandra Terminus in May 2013. With the civic-run Bhabha Hospital in Banrda West turning them down, the constable decided to take Rathi to privately-run Gurunanak Hospital in Bandra (East), only to be informed that Rathi could not be treated there too.
Rathi, who had to come to Mumbai to work as a lieutenant at the Navy Hospital INHS Asvini, had passed away a month after being attacked.
The constable, still posted at the Bandra railway police station, was examined by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and advocate Apeksha Vora, who is representing the accused – Ankur Panwar. Panwar was not produced in court and watched the proceedings from jail through video conference.
Answering Nikam, the constable said that on May 2, 2013, he was the first to reach the office of the station master at Bandra Terminus after an announcement asking all on- duty railway police personnel to report there.
“When I reached the office, I saw a woman seated in a taxi. Her face was burned and she was in a lot of pain,” the constable said. He added that the station master handed him a memo to be produced at Bhabha Hospital and asked him to accompany Rathi and her family to the hospital.
The constable, however, said that doctors at Bhabha Hospital said that they could not treat Rathi and told him to go to the nearest hospital. “I decided then to take Rathi to Gurunanak Hospital. It was necessary to take her to the nearest hospital. It was my decision,” the constable replied when quizzed by Vora about the the decision to go to Gurunanak Hospital.
Admitting that he knew each hospital in the vicinity, the constable told the court that though he was bound to follow the directions of the station master, “it depended on the situation”.
At Gurunanak Hospital, the constable said that first-aid was given to Rathi, but he did not note the time of admission on the memo, as required. Rathi was next taken to Masina Hospital in Byculla after doctors at Gurunanak Hospital said that they could not treat her too. After admitting Rathi at Masina Hospital, the constable said that he returned to Bandra railway police station, but did not return the hospital memo to the station master or his senior officer at the police station.
“I knew that I was supposed to do it, but did not feel like. I briefed my senior officer,” the constable said in reply to a question posed by Vora. The constable’s statement had been recorded at Bandra GRP on May 5, 2013.