The magisterial probe into the death of 532-kg heroin recovery case accused, Gurpinder Singh, in jail on July 21 has indicted doctors at Amritsar Central Jail, Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of 108 Ambulance service while noting that chances of Gurpinder’s survival would have increased had these individuals performed their duty with responsibility.
Citing “facts and evidences on record”, the probe by Amritsar Additional District Magistrate Himanshu Aggarwal ruled out any foul play in Gurpinder’s death, but also put on record that “the findings of this inquiry report are subject to be finding of chemical and viscera examination report of CFSL” that is awaited.
The probe report also indicted Custom officials — the statements of an inspector and two superintendents of Customs Department were recorded during the probe — for “adopting a casual approach towards the health condition of Gurpinder while he was in their custody between 29th June to 1st July”. The report was recently submitted to Punjab Home Department.
Gurpinder, a diabetic patient, died in judicial custody on July 21 after his intermittent stay in Amritsar Central Jail since July after he was arrested by the Customs after recovery of 532-kg heroin and 52 kg of mixed narcotics at Attari Integrated Check post. The consignment was imported from Pakistan by Gurpinder allegedly on behalf of co-accused Tariq Ahmed Lone from Jammu and Kashmir.
Intriguingly, the report noted, “There are 83 CCTV cameras installed in jail premises. However, on 21st July, 2019 only 62 of them were working. More importantly while there was no CCTV camera installed in jail hospital as well as the area where Gurpinder was treated by Dr Sudhir [one of the doctors posted at Amritsar Jail, the CCTV camera covering the pathway connecting hospital to Jail Deodi was not working. This not only reduced the chance of arriving at exact finding of what led to the bleeding of Gurpinder Singh, it also jeopardises the security of the prison.”
The probe has recommended departmental inquiry against Doctor Sachreet Kaur posted at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital for “her absence from the duty, hiding this fact while submitting her statement and not responding immediately when Gurpinder was brought to emergency ward on 21st July”. As per the report, Dr Sachreet Kaur stated that she attended Gurpinder at around 8:20 am and found that he had no BP (blood pressure), heart beat and even his eyes were not responding to light and thereafter she had not made any further efforts to revive the patient. However, according to the visuals of CCTV footage and statement of Dr Sahil Kundal — Kundal looked after the emergency duty for her after she requested him to do so saying she had to “attend/assist a central line procedure”, Dr Sachreet came to Emergency Medical Officer room at 8:52 am.
It also indicted Dr Sudhir Arora, one of the doctors posted at Amritsar Central Jail for “not following due procedure while attending Gurpinder on 21st July and not ensuring proper care and treatment of Gurpinder while shifting him to 108 Ambulance.”
The report said Gurpinder was “not given oxygen supply while reviving him in Jail” as confirmed by others present. “Dr Sudhir has explained this by saying that since oxygen cylinder is 2-2.5 feet long and height of the stretcher is 3 feet, it might be possible that other people might not have seen this but it is impossible to imagine a situation where the other eyewitnesses could not remember an oxygen mask put to a patient, even if they haven’t seen the cylinder,” said the probe report.
Referring to the postmortem team and medical opinion which said that a lot of blood entered the stomach, mouth and lungs of Gurpinder which may have resulted in asphyxia and may be a cause of death, the probe report said that Dr Sudhir should have taken extra care to not only treat the patient in best suitable position but also to ensure that while sending him to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, which took about 15 minutes, the patient should be in a position to lessen the chances of aspiration of blood.
The report has also recommended termination of Emergency Medical Technician Navdeep Singh from 108 Ambulance services and asked operator to take legal action against him for “not attending patient Gurpinder Singh at the back of the Ambulance.”