Alleging cover-up, family of Dr Vandana Das, who was killed while on duty, moves Kerala HC seeking CBI probe

Dr Vandana Das was killed by a patient she was attending to at a taluk hospital in Kollam district, after he got violent and stabbed her.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 01, 2023 | 6:45 PMUpdatedJul 01, 2023 | 6:45 PM

A life cut short: Dr. Vandana Das. (Supplied)

The family of Dr Vandana Das, who was stabbed to death by a patient while on duty at a taluk hospital in Kollam district on 10 May, has moved the Kerala High Court seeking the transfer of the case to the CBI.

In a petition filed before the court, the family alleged that the police — who had brought the accused G Sandeep, a school teacher, under escort to the hospital — was investigating the crime in a “lackadaisical and apathetic” manner to “hide their security lapses”.

The family has contended that Vandana, who was moved to a nearby private hospital for treatment, had walked to the ambulance herself. They suspect there was a delay in shifting her to Thiruvananthapuram for further treatment.

The family questioned whether the police and doctors present at the time of the incident took all necessary steps to save Dr Vandana Das’s life.

Related: Flash strike after brutal killing of on-duty lady doctor in Kollam

‘Facts have been twisted’

“The Kottarakkara police in haste to wash their hands clean, had fabricated the First Information Statement allegedly given by the friend of the deceased [Dr Das], which was obtained intercepting him midway to the hospital while taking the deceased for treatment,” the plea said.

The petition also alleged that the friend had repeatedly stated that the facts have been twisted and turned by the police to suit their narratives, and yet the stand of the police continues to be one of defiance.

“The petitioners who have lost their only daughter to a gruesome murder for absolutely no fault of hers and only for the negligence of the police officials who ought to have protected the lives of the people rather chose to run to safety, exposing the deceased to the murderous assault of the accused,” the plea said.

“Instead of giving an opportunity to the police to hush up the matter and destroy valuable evidence, the case has to be immediately handed over to the CBl,” the plea said.

A magisterial court in Kerala, on 16 May, had given custody of the accused to the Crime Branch wing of the police — who are investigating the brutal murder.

Related: Crime Branch takes over Dr Vandana Das murder case

What happened on 10 May?

Dr Vandana Das, a native of the Kaduthuruthy area of Kottayam district and the only child of her parents, was a house surgeon at Azeezia Medical College Hospital and was working at the Kottarakkara taluk hospital as part of her training.

The accused, G Sandeep, a school teacher by profession was brought to the hospital by police for the treatment of a leg injury.

He had dialled the emergency number 112, claiming his life was in danger. When local police located him, he was standing away from his home, surrounded by residents and his relatives, and had a wound on his leg and a stick in his hand.

He was taken to the hospital accompanied by his brother-in-law and a local political party leader.

As his wound was being dressed, he turned violent. He initially stabbed the politician and a policeman, and then stabbed Dr Das multiple times. She succumbed to her injuries at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram where she was taken after the attack.

Related: ‘Making laws not enough, doctors should be protected real-time’

Many protests and an ordinance

After her murder, doctors and healthcare workers across the state boycotted work and organised protest marches and dharnas in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, and cities like Kollam, Kottayam, Kochi, and Kozhikode.

Following the furore in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened an emergency, high-level meeting and decided to issue the ordinance to amend the hospital protection law.

The ordinance to amend the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act of 2012 was introduced in the next Cabinet meeting.

On 23 May, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan signed the ordinance that provides for stringent punishment, including imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of ₹5 lakh, for those found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to those working in the health services sector in the state.

Related: Kerala Gov signs ordinance for protecting healthcare professionals

Better security at hospitals

It was also decided that police outposts would be set up in all major hospitals in the state.

Besides police outposts, there should be comprehensive police surveillance, CCTV cameras, and warning systems in all three categories of hospitals to create conditions where doctors and other healthcare professionals could work safely, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Additionally, a security audit would be conducted every six months in all hospitals by the health and police departments under the supervision of the concerned district collectors.

“It was also decided in the meeting to explore the possibility of appointing two doctors in the emergency wards of government hospitals at night,” the statement said.

Regarding taking accused persons and those of a violent nature for medical examination, the chief minister said a special security system should be put in place.

Some of these measures, including the issuance of the ordinance and the installation of CCTV cameras, were suggested by the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) in a letter to the chief minister for strengthening security in state-run hospitals.

(With PTI inputs)