Mumbai: COVID-19 centre cleaner nabbed for molesting 17-year-old patient
17-year-old girl assaulted by sanitation worker in Mankhurd facility in the middle of the night; 14th such case in Maharashtra so far
In yet another case of sexual abuse inside a quarantine centre, a 20-year-old sanitation worker of a unit in Mankhurd molested a 17-year-old patient during the wee hours of Tuesday. After the authorities of the COVID care centre informed the local cops, the accused — Deepak Salvi — was booked and later arrested. The agency that sent him to the centre has been fired.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police officer said, "The accused went to the victim's room around 3 am on Tuesday while she was sleeping. He woke her up and started touching her inappropriately. When the girl opposed it, he slapped her."
The officer further said that when the victim started screaming, he fled from the spot. However, when she narrated the incident to the authorities, they immediately informed the Mankhurd cops. "As soon as we were informed, the accused was booked and arrested. He is currently in police custody," said Prakash Chougule, senior inspector of Mankhurd police station.
The incident took place in the wee hours of Tuesday. Pic/Rajesh Gupta
State BJP vice president Chitra Wagh visited the quarantine centre on Tuesday afternoon and spoke to the authorities and the cops. "Since the past four months we have been requesting the government to lay down a standard operating procedure for women in quarantine centres. No men should be allowed on the floors where women are quarantined. Strict action should be taken in such incidents, but the government and municipal corporations are turning a blind eye. We should blacklist agencies whose employees commit such acts as in most of the cases workers of quarantine centres are involved. Nothing is happening on ground."
Speaking to mid-day, assistant municipal commissioner of M East ward, Sudhanshi Dwivedi said, "The cleaner has been charged under the POCSO Act. Home guards are on duty and the patients have been asked to call the doctors and nurses when needed. We give the contact numbers of the doctors to the patients during admission. The cleaner had come through Ekta Samajik Sangstha. We have removed the agency and have issued a show cause notice for blacklisting it." He added that a different agency had been appointed in its place.
Questioning the lack of safety at civic-run units, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said, "It is shocking that a sanitisation worker goes to the 13th floor and molests a young girl at a COVID care centre. I visited the centre and have demanded strict action against the contractor and BMC officials."
In July this year, a 25-year-old patient had raped a 40-year-old woman at a quarantine centre in Panvel. "It was a really unfortunate incident, and to ensure that it doesn't happen again, we placed CCTV cameras in the corridor," said Sudhakar Deshmukh, commissioner of Panvel Municipal Corporation. "Male and female patients have been assigned different floors," he added. A similar incident had taken place at a quarantine centre in Mira-Bhayandar. A 20-year-old had complained to the Navghar police that a worker of the centre raped her thrice, which led to her getting pregnant. Civic chief of Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation, Dr. Vijay Rathod said, "We have started following a strict protocol in quarantine centres. We have also appointed more women workers in the wards or floors where women patients have been quarantined. Also, CCTV cameras have been placed at the entrance of the wards."
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