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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Auto Cluster case: Fourth doctor held, more arrests likely, involvement of higher-ups not ruled out, say cops

All have been booked under sections pertaining to extortion, cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: May 6, 2021 11:43:50 pm
PCMC has given Sparsh Multispeciality the contract to run the Auto Cluster Covid hospital. (File Photo)

Police late on Wednesday arrested one more doctor in the case at Auto Cluster Covid hospital, where a patient’s kin was allegedly charged Rs 1 lakh for a ventilator bed. With this, the total number of arrests has gone up to four. Three doctors, including one working at the civic-run facility and two private doctors, had been arrested last week. All have been booked under sections pertaining to extortion, cheating and criminal breach of trust. Police said they have not ruled out the possibility of more arrests and the involvement of higher-ups.

Police identified the accused as Dr Jyotsna Dandge. “We have arrested one more doctor in the Auto Cluster case. She was arrested based on the interrogation of the three doctors already arrested,” said Deputy commissioner of police Manchak Ippar on Thursday.

Asked if more arrests were likely, Ippar said, “Investigation is on. If the involvement of other doctors come up, we do not rule out the possibility of more arrests. There is likely to be the involvement of some higher-ups also. We are probing that angle… They will also be arrested if found to be involved…”

Police said they were shocked at the involvement of doctors at a time such as this. “These are difficult times… Doctors are held in high esteem. People look up to them as saviours… If they are going to get involved in such cases, people will lose faith in the whole system,” a senior police official said.

When contacted, Dr Amol Holkunde, CEO of Auto Cluster Covid hospital, said, “I had tested positive in April. And therefore, I was away for many days. After I recovered, I would come for an hour or so. I think all this has happened when I was not present. As soon as I got to know about the allegations against our consultant, I served a notice to him. He denied his involvement and, in fact, made allegations against the two private hospital doctors. I told him and even the PCMC that we should lodge a complaint against the two private doctors. The PCMC also agreed. However, we later found out that the PCMC had also named our doctor in the matter.”

Dr Holkunde said he was ready for any kind of investigation. “If anyone has taken money, police should bring out the truth. I am also ready for any investigation in the matter,” he added.

He also said, “The entire staff at the hospital is in a state of shock. The continued presence of police has unnerved the staff… We are trying hard to maintain our composure and focus on saving Covid patients.”

Dr Holkunde said there would be no such allegations against the Auto Cluster hospital again as the PCMC had withdrawn all powers relating to admissions and even discharging patients. “The PCMC doctors will take the call regarding admissions… In fact, last year too, we put up a board people should not pay any money for admission,” he added.

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