Kerala COVID-19 Patient Sexually Assaulted by Ambulance Driver

The accused, who is a native of Kayamkulam in Alappuzha, is also an accused in an attempt-to-murder case.

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Noufal, who is a native of Kayamkulam in Alappuzha, is also an accused in an attempt to muder case.
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A 19-year-old COVID-19 patient was sexually assaulted by an ambulance driver at Aranmula in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta, while being taken to the hospital on the night of Saturday, 5 September. The driver, 28-year-old Noufal, who is part of Kerala’s 108 ambulance service, has been arrested by the police.

According to the police, two women who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus were taken by the ambulance. While one was dropped at a hospital, the other patient who had severe symptoms was sexually assaulted by the driver on the way to another hospital.

Police said that the accused drove the ambulance to a deserted place and then sexually assaulted the 19-year-old woman.

"Around 11:30 at night the two women were picked up. He assaulted the survivor at a deserted spot and later dropped her at Pandalam hospital. The police caught the accused the same night. This was an unfortunate incident," said Pathanamthitta district police superintendent KG Simon.

The officer said that the survivor sustained injuries, but her condition is stable.

Noufal, who is a native of Kayamkulam in Alappuzha, is also an accused in an attempt-to-murder case, said the police officer, adding that he has confessed to the crime.

Following the incident, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailja told the media that they will take all necessary action to prevent such crimes in the future. "To prevent maximum contact, others have not been allowed to ride with a coronavirus patient inside the ambulance. From the call centre, we keep informing the driver on where patients need to be dropped off.”

Opposition Demands KK Shailaja’s Resignation

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala slammed the Kerala Health Department and asked why there was no woman worker in the ambulance. He also raised questions over the ambulance driver’s criminal background.

Responding to this, the health minister said, “108 ambulance drivers are assigned through an agency. We have informed the agency to replace him. Also these drivers are recruited through an interview. So we will inquire why this person's criminal background was not checked."

BJP state president K Surendran said that the government is responsible for this incident and he sought resignation of the health minister. He also said that 108 ambulance drivers are not recruited through a proper channel.

However, KK Shailaja dismissed the BJP leader’s criticism stating:

“108 ambulance drivers have been doing a great job without even proper rest for the last six or seven months. So since this one person did this, it doesn’t mean that all 108 drivers are like this. Such criminal incidents can happen at any place unfortunately. Such criminals will be brought before law at the earliest.”

"We have given clear instructions now to all the medical officers that if women are travelling in the ambulance, we will be arranging somebody to accompany them. This is the first incident and we will take all measures that it will not be repeated," she added.

(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)

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