Radhaben Siraji Rabari, a 23-year-old woman from Ambaji, a town in Banaskantha district, Gujarat, delivered a still-born child after writhing for hours in labour pain while being held at a police station along with her family on June 12.
Radhaben was in labour pain when her family rushed her to a local government hospital in Ambaji. However, she was referred to Palanpur, about 62 kilometres from Ambaji. When they did not get an ambulance, the family hired a private car and was on their way to Palanpur when the Ambaji police stopped them for not wearing masks (to prevent COVID-19), according to the family.
Six family members, including Radhaben and the driver, were taken to the nearest police station and were made to wait for about an hour. When the family finally reached the hospital in Palanpur, doctors declared that the baby had already died and Radhaben needed extensive surgery.
“When the hospital in Ambaji refused to admit her and there was no ambulance we could hire, we took a hired private car and rushed home to get more money that we might need in Palanpur. En route to Palanpur, the car was stopped at DK Circle in Ambaji by local police,” Motibhai, brother-in-law of Radhaben, told Newsclick.
Narrating their ordeal, he added: “Police said they stopped us for not wearing masks. The driver was not wearing a mask, the women had covered their faces with their sarees and men with their pagdis (traditional headgear). They saw a pregnant lady in labour pain, yet they told us that our car will be impounded. We requested them to let us go and offered to pay fine. Siraji, Radhaben’s husband, even said that he will voluntarily come back to police station once his wife was admitted in hospital. But we were taken to Ambaji police station where we were made to wait for about an hour. Radhaben was writhing in pain while we waited at the police station. When Sirajibhai called up some police personnel he knew, we were finally allowed to leave.”
Radhaben was finally taken Palanpur Civil Hospital where the doctors declared that her baby had already died and she was on the verge of getting “blood poisoning” (sepsis) and referred her to GMERS Dharpur Medical College and Hospital, Patan, about 60 kilometres from Palanpur.
“She underwent extensive surgery and had huge blood loss. After 24 hours in the ICU, she was shifted to the female ward and is still in hospital,” said Vijaybhai Rabari, a relative of Radhaben.
The police personnel who stopped the family have been identified as Jayesh and Bharat by the family, who attempted to file a complaint against the duo. However, Banaskantha police has decided to investigate into the matter first.
Noticeably, this is not the only incident of police excess Gujarat due to not wearing a mask. On July 15, a businessman and his father were brutally thrashed by local police in Kalawad, Jamnagar district, and had to be hospitalised.
Nishant Udeshi, a young businessman was stopped for not wearing mask and taken to the police station where he was reportedly thrashed by four police personnel. On receiving information about his son, Ghanshyam Udeshi rushed to the police station where he tried to talk to the police. However, he too was thrashed. The father son duo had to be hospitalised in Rajkot Civil Hospital.
The four police personnel were later suspended by the Superintendent of Police, Jamnagar. The suspended police personnel will be tried under Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) among other sections.