One of the accused arrested for assaulting a doctor at the civil hospital in Dhule Sunday has been found dead in police lock-up. Police claimed Pradip Sadashiv Vetale committed suicide by hanging himself on Tuesday. A CID inquiry has been ordered by the DGP. “The CID has been handed over the investigation and it has collected CCTV footage of the lock-up where the accused was lodged. The post-mortem report is expected Wednesday, which will ascertain the cause of death,” said Dhule SP Chaitanya S. Vetale was arrested along with eight others for assaulting Dr Rohan Mhamunkar, a 31-year-old resident doctor at the civil hospital in Dhule, where he has been posted for one-and-half years.
According to police, Vetale was lodged in a cell along with two others. Around 3 pm on Tuesday, he went to the toilet. Police claimed he hanged himself with a blanket from the toilet ceiling. Police found the body an hour later. In the assault on Sunday night, Mhamunkar suffered an orbital fracture, multiple contusions and injuries to his skull. “He is so traumatised, he has been crying since then,” said his mother Archana Mhamunkar. Mhamunkar, who is from Mumbai, was on duty at the hospital on Holi. An orthopaedic doctor, he was on duty along with three other orthopaedic doctors when a patient was brought in with a head injury. According to Mhamunkar, the patient had met with a road accident and there was no CT scan facility to examine his injuries. Agitated and angered over the absence of a neurosurgeon, the patient’s relatives assaulted the doctor.
“There was no neurosurgeon in the hospital. So the patient was referred to a centre in Aurangabad or Mumbai. The patient’s relatives got angry and started beating him. The irony is, Dr Mhamunkar is an orthopaedic doctor and is not even concerned with the case,” said Dr Yogesh Zadbuke, professor of orthopaedics at the hospital. Police said Vetale was a relative of the patient, who later succumbed to his injuries. Nine of his relatives, including Vetale, were arrested on charges of attempt to murder. In CCTV grabs, a mob of over 20 people is seen thrashing Mhamunkar, with a few climbing hospital cots. According to doctors present at the hospital, Mhamunkar was first beaten up in the casualty ward, then in the operation theatre. He suffered a fracture in the eye socket bone and multiple abrasions on his body. A CT scan revealed his brain tissues had swelled and a fracture in the skull.
Mhamunkar was rushed to Seva hospital in Dhule. On Monday, his brother brought him to Kandivali in Mumbai, where his family lives. “I didn’t even know he was so badly injured. His colleagues told me he had fallen from his bike. I found out about the incident on Monday night,” his mother said. According to a resident doctor, the mob appeared to be drunk. Police reached the hospital within 10 minutes of receiving a call. But the mob continued to assault Mhamunkar. “Nine people have been arrested so far and identification of more is under way. We are examining the CCTV footage,” said SP Chaitanya S. The accused have been booked for attempt to murder, assault on a public servant and under sections 3 and 4 of the Maharashtra Medical Act.
Between January 2015 and December 2016, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors recorded 47 cases of assaults on doctors in the state. The 500-bed Dhule hospital has only one armed personnel at the main gate. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 doctors from across the state will hold a protest in Dhule Wednesday against repeated incidents of violence in government hospitals. Three months ago, a nurse was beaten up at the Dhule hospital by relatives of a patient in a similar episode.