An ambulance driver has been arrested for allegedly raping a woman who had tested positive for Covid-19 while taking her to a hospital in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, NDTV reported on Sunday. Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police KG Simon said the accused, identified as Nowfal, was part of the state health department’s “108 ambulance service”.
The alleged incident took place on Saturday night. The police said Nowfal was taking two patients to different hospitals in the ambulance. First, he dropped off the other patient. “…The ambulance driver diverted the vehicle towards an empty ground and raped the young woman, the complaint stated,” the police said.
After reaching the hospital, the woman narrated her ordeal to the hospital staff, who in turn informed the police. Later, a medical examination confirmed the sexual assault, according to Hindustan Times.
“It appears to be a well-planned crime,” said Simon. “The driver took a circuitous route to carry out the crime. We have collected all the evidence. We will fast track the trial to hand out stringent punishment to the accused.”
The police said the driver was arrested within hours of the crime. The police also found that the accused was involved in several criminal cases earlier.
Nowfal has been removed from the 108 ambulance service, reported NDTV. Health officials said he was recruited on a temporary basis and they were investigating how he got the job.
The incident elicited angry reactions from politicians. Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has told the police to take strict action against the accused. She called the incident inhuman.
“It is a shocking incident,” said Communist Party of Indian (Marxist) leader Veena George. “The ministry has taken measures to avoid such incidents. More health workers will be deployed in ambulances from now on.”
Bharatiya Janata Party state president K Surendran demanded the resignation of the health minister.