3 arrested for Punjab hospital fire tragedy

February 21st, 2011 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Patiala, Feb 21 (IANS) Over two years after six infants were burnt to death in a fire that broke out in the phototherapy ward of a government-run hospital in this Punjab town, three people, including the head of the paediatrics department, have been arrested, police said Monday.According to police, the arrested were identified as K.K. Locham, head of the paediatrics department of Rajindra Hospital, nurse Rita Kaur and class four employee Satya.

“We had booked three staffers of Rajindra Hospital Sunday evening and they were arrested late night. They were held guilty in an inquiry report that was submitted by a senior police officer around two months back,” Station House Officer of the Civil Lines police station G.S. Sikand told IANS Monday.

“Dr. Locham is accused of negligence. The fire was the result of short-circuit and the wiring was not changed since this hospital was constructed in 1950s,” he added.

A probe was conducted by Superintendent of Police (operation) S.S. Boparai, on the basis of which the first information report was registered.

Earlier, a judicial probe was also conducted by former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge K.C. Gupta, who was appointed on the one-man inquiry committee by the Punjab’s chief minister. In his report, Gupta had recommended that four hospital employees, including two doctors, be chargesheeted.

The tragedy occurred in January 2009, when the infants were being treated for jaundice. Five of the infants were charred to death on the spot before any help could arrive, while another infant succumbed to the burns later. Their mothers had fed them barely 20 minutes before the incident, said hospital authorities.

Patiala is around 70 km away from the state capital Chandigarh.

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