Meghalaya mulling action against doctor for refusing to treat rape victim

Shillong, Jul 21, 2021, IANS

Taking a "serious note" of the matter, the Social Welfare Department of Meghalaya is contemplating action against a doctor who had refused to treat a minor gang-rape victim on the ground that the place of the incident was beyond his jurisdiction, officials said here on Wednesday.

The police had taken the victim to the Williamnagar Civil Hospital in East Garo Hills district as it was 22 km from Nangalbibra, where she was raped. But the doctor in the hospital, citing jurisdictional complications, referred her to the Baghmara Civil Hospital, which is 75 km away.

The police have arrested four accused persons for raping the girl when she had gone out on Sunday evening to buy candles in the Nangalbibra area of South Garo Hills district in southeastern Meghalaya.

Strongly condemning the incident, Social Welfare Minister Kyrmen Shylla said that he has asked the concerned officials to collect detailed information about the incident.

"Jurisdiction has never been an issue when it comes to medical treatment. We would take up the doctor's issue with the Health Department. The culprits have been arrested and they deserve the strictest punishment which can act as a deterrent," he said.

Various organisations in Meghalaya, including the Garo Students' Union and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, have also condemned the gang-rape of the 14-year-old girl as well as the insensitivity of the doctor at the Williamnagar Civil Hospital.

The organisations have demanded action against the doctor for turning the rape victim away.

The Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment (ACWE) would hold a meeting on the issue at the earliest, and has asked all the concerned officials to remain present in the meeting virtually.

Congress MLA and ACWE chairperson Ampareen Lyngdoh said the panel would seriously inquire why the victim was refused medical care in the Williamnagar Civil Hospital.

"It is very depressing that such serious crimes are occurring frequently in the state even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.

East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe said that the Medical Superintendent of Williamnagar Civil Hospital has been directed to submit a report of the incident.