Editor's note: This is the third in a three-part series of ground reports from Unnao and nearby villages. These articles will examine the culture of fear and repression that is pervasive in the region, and which is typified by the rape of the 17-year-old girl in June 2017.
A major cover-up operation seems to be afoot to put the blame of the death of the Unnao rape survivor's father on the doctors of the Uma Dixit Unnao District Hospital. The rape survivor's father died in Unnao District Hospital on the morning of 9 April at 3:40 am.
He was brought to the hospital on the night of 8 April at 9:30 pm in a serious condition, suffering multiple abrasions on his back, buttocks and thighs, perforation of the colon, peritonitis and septicaemia.
But, it is the doctor fraternity who is bearing the onus of responsibility for his death, with the state authorities suspending two senior doctors and ordering an enquiry against another three, without giving them an opportunity to present their point of view.
Sixty-year-old Dr DK Diwedi, chief medical superintendent of the hospital, is in no mood to shoulder the blame for his death.
"I was on leave from 1-4 April and rejoined the hospital on 5 April. The man was brought to the hospital on 3 April during my absence. The hospital records show that he was taken to the emergency with several abrasions on his back, buttocks, thighs arms and shoulders. During the period he was being attended to, I understand that CMO Dr Ved Chaudhary kept ringing up the doctors, demanding he be given a discharge,"
"The call records should be sent for. They will confirm what I am saying," alleges Dr Diwedi, who is one of the doctors suspended.
Dr Prashant Upadhaya was on duty at that time. He felt that given the nature of the man's injuries, he should have remained in the hospital for further treatment. But because of alleged pressure being put on the doctors, Dr Upadhaya made a note on the patient's file that this line of treatment should be continued by the jail doctors. The girl's father was then discharged and taken to the Unnao jail, located five kilometres from the hospital.
When this question of his release was put to other doctors in the hospital, they also confirmed that this notation by Dr Upadhaya was available in the hospital records. The CBI team that visited Unnao on Tuesday (17 April) has also taken a photocopy of this notation.
Interestingly, a team of two doctors, Dr Alok Pandey and Dr SN Gupta visited the Unnao jail hospital on 6 April, where they treated fourteen patients. But Singh was not shown to these doctors. Doctors from the district hospital visit the jail on a regular basis. It is curious, the doctors at the district hospital ask, why he was not brought for a checkup before the two doctors visiting the jail.
On 7 April, the survivor's father, Singh was once again brought to the hospital at around 11 am. This time, he was not escorted by a police guard but had the jail pharmacist Ram Kumar as his escort. He was attended to by Dr Pande and Dr Gupta. He was then taken for an ultrasound.
According to the radiologist, Dr SK Johrie: "I went through his medical reports before doing his ultrasound. His blood and urine were normal as has been shown in the tests that had been conducted. He walked to the clinic by himself without any assistance. The time then was around 1 pm."
Recalling the series of events, Johrie said: "I asked him if he had any pain in his stomach or difficulty passing stool and he said it was all normal. When an ultrasound is conducted, we do look at the gallbladder and the entire region and he said he was fine. If his intestine was indeed perforated, there would have been some indications."
"The question is what happened between the time of his discharge at 2 pm on 7 April and 9:30 pm on 8 April, when he was brought back to the district hospital with perforation of the intestine and 19 abrasions on his back? It is for the jail authorities and for the jail police to give an answer as to what happened in that period of 36 hours?" Dr Johrie asked.
The CMO, Dr Chaudhary, agrees that the rape survivor's father was brought back to the hospital in a serious condition. ` "The man complained of stomach ache and vomiting. He also said he had not had had bowel movements for two days. His younger brother, Mahesh Singh, knew that his brother's situation was not good because he rang me up and told me that he was complaining of a pain in his stomach,"
"He was suffering from multiple problems and died six to seven hours after being admitted to the hospital. Since his condition was not good, the doctor on duty should have referred him to Kanpur Medical College," Chaudhary said.
"Following his death, a post-mortem was conducted which confirmed that he was suffering from a perforated intestine. There could have been a small perforation which did show up in the ultrasound," the CMO added.
When asked if he had phoned the doctors to ensure an early release from the hospital on 4 April, as has been alleged by them, Choudhary replied, "The responsibility for the discharge is on the doctor on duty. If the patient is dying, he should not have released him. I was not present on the spot."
When this same question was put to the radiologist Dr SK Johrie, he replied, "We are not so strong. We follow the directives given by the CMO. All those injuries occurred in jail. It is a clear case of death in judicial custody."
Dr Diwedi further confirmed that the Unnao jail, as is true of all jails, has its own team of doctors and its own jail police force. When he was asked to show a copy of Singh's medical records, including his ultrasound, Dr Diwedi replied, "They are all with the jail authorities. We do not keep them in the hospital."
When asked why not, Dr Diwedi replied, "This is the practice here. If we ask for them, they will send them to the hospital."
When the CMO was asked why the medical records of a jailed inmate were not kept in the hospital, he feigned ignorance.
"They should have been with the hospital," he said. Dr Chaudhary denied he had acted under pressure from the district magistrate or other senior authorities but there is no doubt that his intervention for an early release, as alleged by Dr Diwedi, must have been at the instance of a powerful lobby working in the favour of the Unnao rape accused, MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar.
Suspension of a doctor means they are on half salary and have to report to the authorities in Lucknow. Apart from Dr Diwedi, Dr Upadhaya has been suspended. Regarding the departmental enquiry, the CMO confirmed that it is conducted by an IAS officer and has not started yet. It is obvious that the enquiry will start only once the CBI completes its enquiry.
The CMO clarified, "The orders for an enquiry have been given by the state directorate. The Allahabad High Court is also monitoring this case."
Meanwhile, the rape survivor appeared before the CBI special magistrate Sapna Tripathi to give her statement under CrPc section 164. According to CBI sources, her statement ran into six pages. Tripathi's team was in Unnao on Tuesday to crosscheck the minor's statement.
In her complaints against the Bangarmau BJP MLA, she alleged a woman from her village Shashi Singh had taken her to his house around 8 pm. Shashi had taken her to the MLA's house to put in a word at her behest, so she could get a job, but the latter confined her inside his house in Makhi and sexually assaulted her.
Apart from this case, the CBI is also investigating a second FIR stating that she had been abducted by three youth in her village at 10 pm on 11 June, 2017.
While the Makhi police failed to register an FIR after the girl went missing, the boys were arrested and jailed under IPC sections 363 and 366 on 21 June, 2017.
The other two FIRs were lodged on 3 April, 2018, after the girl's father was attacked by Sengar's brother Atul and his four accomplices because he refused to withdraw the FIR against the BJP MLA.
The rape of this 17-year old has created an uproar throughout the country and was made all the more poignant because of the brutal methods used to silence her father.
A video of the father with lesions and bruises across his body surfaced subsequently, testifying to the terror tactics that local politicians employ to silence those who dare cross swords with them.
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