Telangana to invoke tough laws to curb attack on doctors

Hyderabad: Sending a strong message to those attacking doctors and other healthcare professionals combating coronavirus, the Telangana Police have decided to book them under stringent laws.

After the recent incidents at two government-run hospitals, here, Director General of Police (DGP) M. Mahender Reddy has told cops to show zero tolerance in such incidents. He asked the police officers to ensure that those involved in such attacks didn’t go unpunished.

The police swung into action after the Telangana High Court on Wednesday rapped it for inaction in such cases. It announced the arrest of three persons, including a COVID-19 patient, over the two incidents.

A 23-year-old COVID-19 patient was arrested for attacking a doctor at Gandhi Hospital on April 1 following his relative’s death, who was under treatment in the same isolation ward.

The accused, later shifted to another hospital, was produced before a magistrate through video link. He was remanded to the judicial custody but would remain under treatment at the same hospital.

In the second incident, the police arrested two men for attacking a junior doctor at Osmania General Hospital on Tuesday. They had assaulted the doctor for keeping their relative in a ward which was peopled by COVID-19 persons.

The duo was also produced before a magistrate through video link and was remanded to the judicial custody.

They have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), section 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), section 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), section 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) and the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 section 3 (Disobeying any regulation or order made under this Act).

The Telangana Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act 2008 has also been invoked against them.

The Act prohibits violence against health-care personnel and damage to property in medicare service institutions. A person found guilty under this Act may be punished with three-year imprisonment and fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000. It’s a non-bailable and cognizable offence.

The Act was first implemented in the form of AP Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage of Property) Act in 2008 in the united Andhra Pradesh after a series of attacks on medicos at government-run Nayapul and Niloufer maternity hospitals in Hyderabad.

After the formation of Telangana, the Act was renamed and was first invoked in 2018 against four persons involved in an attack on a private hospital in Hyderabad following the death of their relative.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar said prompt action would be taken in case of assault on a doctor or any medical staff in any hospital. “At this challenging time, doctors and the other healthcare personnel are the true leaders of the society. The contribution of the medical fraternity can’t be described in words,” he said.

The high court on Wednesday took serious note of attacks and rapped the police for not taking action against those involved.

Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan asked the government to give wide publicity to action against attackers to deter mischievous elements. He said such elements were seemingly under the impression that they could get away after attacking medical and health personnel.

The court said mere registration of FIRs would not help. Arrests should be made to send the message loud and clear, it added.