Almost two weeks after a fire at Swarna Palace hotel in Vijayawada led to the death of 10 Covid-19 patients, police are yet to arrest its owner as well as the managing director of Ramesh Hospitals, which had leased the hotel to accommodate coronavirus patients.
After the fire at the hotel on August 9, police had arrested Ramesh Hospitals COO Dr K Rajagopala Rao; general manager Dr K Sudarshan, and P Venktesh who was the coordinator at the hotel. However, Ramesh Hospitals MD Dr Pothineni Ramesh Babu — who on August 18 had applied for anticipatory bail through his advocates — and hotel owner M Srinivas Rao are absconding, Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu said.
Police said they have sent notices under Section 160 of CrPC to the residences of Dr Babu and Rao calling them to appear for questioning but there has been no response. “We have formed several teams to track them down but we could not trace them,’’ the commissioner said.
Officials said their cell phones are also switched off. However, Dr Babu has released a video in which he has expressed his condolences to the bereaved families.
During investigation police found that Dubai-based Aster DM Healthcare has a 50 per cent stake in Ramesh Hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday is set to hear Dr Babu’s anticipatory bail plea as well as a petition seeking a direction to alter the sections invoked in the FIR filed against the managements of Ramesh Hospitals and Swarna Palace hotel.
The FIR was lodged at Governorpet police station based on a complaint by Vijayawada Central Mandal Revenue Officer P Jaya Sri. It states that both the hotel and hospital staff knew about electrical defects in the air conditioning units and wiring and despite the danger it posed, they did not bother to conduct repairs as it involved a lot of expenditure.
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