A team of police personnel from Jaripatka Police station in Nagpur are facing an inquiry after using heavy-handed forceful tactics in order to arrange oxygen cylinders for fifteen critical COVID-19 patients admitted in an ICU at a private hospital. The police officers gave oxygen cylinders to the hospital which barely had two hours of oxygen supply left.
Shortly after Sunday midnight, the Nimunabai Tirpude Hospital sent Jaripatka Police Station a message informing the police that the lives of 15 COVID-19 patients are at risk because the oxygen supply may not last beyond 5 AM. According to Dr. Shivaji Supalkar of the Tirpude Hospital, the regular oxygen plant which supplied the hospital did not respond to repeated pleas, going as far as to disallow the hospital vehicle from entering its premises.
However, as per reports, the hospital authorities did not inform the Collector or the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) control room about their need for oxygen. Instead, they raised their issue on a social media group comprising nodal officers and other senior officials of the civic body and the district administration. NMC Additional Commissioner Jalaj Sharma directed the hospital to pick up 10 oxygen cylinders from a plant in Hingna. By that time, the hospital had already informed the Jaripatka police station about their situation.
Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) Mahadeo Naikwade, who was on duty at the time, alerted the control room about the hospital’s grave oxygen situation. The control room told Naikwade about another oxygen plant in Yashodhara Nagar, where PSI Naikwade showed up with his team.
Initially, the Yashodhara Nagar plant refused to hand over any spare oxygen tanks because of an earlier direction from the Collector to only supply oxygen cylinders as per the quota allotted. However, PSI Naiwakde, who was reportedly emotionally moved by the situation, forcefully took 7 oxygen cylinders and delivered them to Tirpude Hospital, in what was a virtual robbery.
Though he may have acted with noble intentions, the action did not please senior officials due to violations involved including that of the Collector’s orders.
Hospital authorities say they were panicked by the dire situation and approached the police fearing anger from the patient’s relatives if something untoward happened. “The PSI’s act ensured oxygen for our patients and we are ready to pay whatever amount is due. The cylinders helped us continue till our normal supply was restored,” said Dr. Supalkar.
Zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police Neelotpal says that an inquiry has been instituted under the concerned Assistant Commissioner of Police.