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Sufficient measures taken to defend domestic violence victims amid lockdown, AAP tells Delhi HC




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New Delhi: The AAP government and the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) have told the Delhi High Court that there are sufficient measures in place to safeguard victims of domestic violence and child abuse amid the lockdown in the country.

The submission was made before a bench of justices J R Midha and Jyoti Singh which was hearing via video conferencing an NGO’s plea claiming that there was an increasing in number of domestic violence incidents since the nation was put under lockdown and sought an urgent intervention by the court.

The NGO — All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice (AICHLS) — in its plea has sought safeguarding measures for the victims of domestic violence and child abuse amid the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has infected 14,378 people and claimed 480 lives in India.

The Women and Child Development Department, represented by Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Urvi Mohan, told the court that sufficient facilities were available to house victims of domestic violence and children in need of care and protection.

The department also said there are 24×7 helplines in place and when a complaint is received, rescue of the victim(s) is carried out immediately.

The DCW, represented by advocate Rajshekhar Rao, told the court that the volume of calls on its helpline – 181 – has gone down after April 1.

However, there was a spike in call volume between March 26 and March 31, but it was largely for seeking clarity in relation to the imposition of the lockdown.

Normally, on an average, the DCW receives around 1500-1800 calls, it told the court.

The submissions were made on notes placed before the bench by the department and the DCW on Friday.

The court, thereafter, listed the matter for further hearing on Saturday afternoon.

The DCW, in its note, has also said that analysis of the calls received on its helpline during the lockdown indicated no rising trend in domestic violence cases.

“On the contrary, the number of cases reported to the helpline has decreased. While no definite conclusion can be drawn, this is probably due to the circumspection on the part of victims in reporting such incidents due to the presence of the perpetrators in the house and the fear of further violence if such attempts to report were made known to the perpetrator,” the commission said.

It has also said in its note that the cases of molestation, sexual assault and stalking, etc. have decreased manifold presumably since a large number of these incidents take place outside the domestic setting and by third parties”.

“The reported cases of rapes have also decreased by 71 per cent (approx.) again presumably due to the perpetrators being third parties and the location of the attacks being outside the household. Kidnapping cases reported to the helpline has also seen a fall of more than 90 per cent,” the commission said in its note.

The NGO, in its plea, has contended that incidents of domestic violence and child abuse have gripped not only India, but countries such as Australia, the UK and the US, and the reports suggest that countries are witnessing a horrific surge in domestic violence cases since the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdowns.

The plea has claimed that the helpline numbers across the country have received about 92,000 calls based on domestic abuse and violence in the first 11 days of the lockdown alone, and sought to appoint nodal officers to attend such distress calls.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown is a danger for victims of domestic violence. Here’s what to do


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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