Red tape claims life

VADODARA: The brutal killing of Sombhai Vasava, a tribal farm labourer who was done to death by his employer in Mokse village here on Saturday, has raised serious questions over the authoritative functioning of a section of policemen and district administration officials.

Vasava was beaten to death by his employer Harshad alias Munna Patel, Subhash Patel and Kalubhai Solanki around 4 pm on Saturday. It took the police some 13 hours to lodge an offence while the district administration doctors delayed autopsy, performing it well after 18 hours of the incident!

The Vasava family, who had to run from pillar to post to get the body for cremation and final rites, finally cremated Somabhai on Monday morning.

Sources allege that had the policemen, whom Vasava's wife Shakuben contacted at 2 am on Sunday at the Bhadrava police station, acted in time a profusely bleeding Vasava may have been saved. However, what was destined for Vasava was a long ordeal, a slow and painful death and a troubled journey before he could finally rest in peace.

After being seriously injured, a bleeding Vasava was left in the farm in the ravines of Mahi river. An eye witness of the incident informed Vasava's wife, Shakuben, made desperate attempts to inform the police and get her husband treated. When Shakuben finally managed to reach the Bhadarva police station after trekking 8 km at 2 am on Sunday the police station officer Salam Singh asked her to get a certificate from a hospital.

Shakuben was told that the police sub inspector was not present and an offence could only be lodged if the area hospital sends intimation about the incident. Shakuben was reverted to the Dodka outpost. When she finally reached the Dodka outpost in the thick of the night the solitary constable Arvindsinh Fatehsinh was missing. By this time it was 4 am on Sunday and Shakhuben's husband Somabhai's Vasava's heart beats had stopped.

On Sunday morning district superintendent of police Keshav Kumar was informed about the incident by an anonymous caller. "I called the DySP SC/ST and asked him to visit the village and simultaneously informed the Bhadarva police station to take the complaint," Kumar told TOI.

What followed after the police complaint, however, was another long ordeal for the Vasavas. According to legal stipulation an autopsy had to be performed to find out the exact cause of death. As the offence was committed in Bhadarva jurisdiction, Vasava's body was taken to the local community health centre (CHC). However, on reaching the CHC it was learnt that the doctor was on leave. Police then took the body to the nearby Savli CHC.

The doctor here, Sushil Anand, however, flatly refused to perform the post-mortem as the case was not of Savli but Bhadarva jurisdiction. PSI MV Patel informed Kumar about the adamant doctor. Kumar had to call up district collector Bhagyesh Jha in order to get the doctor do his job.

"At 5.50 pm the Savli doctor was somehow convinced to perform the autopsy but he said a panel was required to do the job", Kumar said.

This brought district development office D Thara in the picture. Thara issued orders asking Desar CHC doctor Vaishali Parmar to rush to Savli. Parmar reached Savli at 6.45 pm on Sunday. At 7.30 pm Kumar got another phone call from his PSI who said the doctors refused to perform the post-mortem saying that the 'lights were not enough'. All this while the Vasava family was wailing and waiting to the get the body for cremation.

"The autopsy could have performed when the body was first brought to the CHC. They deliberately delayed and then said lights were not enough", Kumar said. He spoke to Jha on the incident. Both, Kumar and Jha, reached Savli. Ultimately at 9 pm the two doctors took the body in for autopsy. The Vasava family got the body at midnight.

Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: May 8, 2001
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