HC directs Vizag judge to record suspended doctor’s statement

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed the Visakhapatnam sessions judge to record the statement of a suspended government doctor allegedly manhandled by the police in full public view in Visakhapatnam last week.

The High Court directed the sessions judge to personally visit the Government Hospital for Mental Health where Dr K. Sudhakar Rao is admitted and record his statement.

The court issued orders that the doctor’s statement be submitted to it by Thursday evening.

The court passed the orders on a petition seeking a probe into the doctor’s manhandling, arrest and admission to a mental hospital.

Sudhakar Rao, civil assistant surgeon, Area Hospital, Narsipatnam, who was suspended two months ago after he publicly criticised the government for failing to provide N95 masks to the doctors treating Covid-19 patients, was arrested by the police in Visakhapatnam on May 16 for allegedly creating nuisance on the road at Akkayapalem.

The policemen allegedly manhandled the doctor, who was seen shirtless to the waist, dragged him and bundled him into an autorickshaw. He was shifted to King George Hospital, where doctors found him in an inebriated condition. He was subsequently referred to Government Hospital for Mental Health, where he was under treatment for acute and transient psychosis.

The police booked the doctor under the Indian Penal Code sections 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50).

Police said the doctor behaved rudely with a traffic head constable, snatched his mobile phone and threw it away. He allegedly behaved aggressively with an autorickshaw driver and others and caused a traffic jam.

Police claimed that as the doctor could have endangered his own life, he was taken into custody and since he was in an inebriated condition, he was shifted to KGH for an alcohol test.

The video clips of police tying the doctor’s hands behind him, dragging and manhandling him triggered outrage with the opposition parties, doctors’ associations and Dalit groups condemning the police action.

Former chief minister and leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu alleged that the YSR Congress Party government treated the doctor with vengeance for criticising it over not supplying masks to the doctors.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has lodged a protest with the Andhra Pradesh government over the police inappropriately handling Dr Sudhakar, an anesthetist.

“There were certainly civilised ways of handling the situation by a civilian government. That he was under suspension for allegedly raising safety issues in the hospital was all the more reason for sensitive handling of the issue,” the IMA headquarters said in a letter to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The association made it clear that it doesn’t hold a brief for Dr Sudhakar uttering unparliamentary words against the chief minister. “Such public behaviour is unacceptable and a conscientious apology is in order,” it said

“In the meantime the way a member of the medical profession was handled in public is very disturbing. It has hurt the doctors across the nation,” the IMA added.

IMA wrote that it expects a fair investigation into the incident and his suspension and demanded punishment for the erring police officials.

IMA noted that its Andhra Pradesh branch rose to the occasion in defending the dignity of the doctor and looking after his health. It appended with its letter the interim report of the fact finding committee of IMA, AP.

The fact finding committee demanded that charges against Dr Sudhakar must be withdrawn and concurrently, he must apologise for using foul language against the chief ministers of both the Telugu states.

The panel opined that the police brutality was a sad fallout of his suspension from service for certain comments of his at that time.

It found that the suspension affected the mental health of Sudhakar and caused agony to his family.

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