Finally, the Chandigarh police have arrested two persons for “sexually abusing” HIV– positive women.
The police arrested James–a senior technician at the country’s premier Post– Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research ( PGIMER), Chandigarh–and Nek Ram, a former counsellor with the Chandigarh AIDS Control Society.
The police have registered a case of rape against the accused.
They have been remanded in judicial custody.
The arrest of the accused on Friday came over one– and– a– half years after MAIL TODAY exposed the abuse of HIV– positive women. The police investigation began after the MAIL TODAY expose on December 15, 2007 revealing the prolonged exploitation of patients who depended on the accused for drugs and other medical help.
Beyond sexual favours, these victims were even pushed into prostitution by the accused.
Taking congnisance of the report, Chandigarh IGP Shanti Kumar had ordered the probe.
The National Human Rights Commission had also been monitoring the case.
The investigation revealed that James and Nek Ram had sought sexual favours on the pretext of giving the women expensive medicines free of cost.
The duo had apparently convinced one of the victims, who later spilled the beans to MAIL TODAY , into providing sexual favours during a test ( CD4) conducted to track the progression of the virus in the body.
The accused repeatedly visited her house at Mauli Jagran–a slum near Chandigarh. The accused knew the woman was HIV– positive and they used condoms to protect themselves.
DSP Kulwant Singh Pannu, who has been supervising the investigation, said it was a difficult case to crack. “The victims were not ready to lodge formal complaints, since the majority of them were from very poor families.
One of the victims, however, decided to avenge the exploitation leading to the arrest of the accused. We are carrying out further investigation,” Pannu added.
These women had suffered a traumatic experience at PGIMER when they went there for counselling and getting antiretroviral treatment ( ARV).
The PGIMER held an internal inquiry, but gave a clean chit to the accused on the pretext of insufficient evidence. At one stage, the record was allegedly manipulated to prove that the “Victims” did not undergo treatment at the institute.
But several victims laid bare a network of sex predators preying on HIV patients who are stigmatised and are often too poor to afford treatment.
Anu, a 30– year– old, had lost her husband about four years ago. A mother of two had revealed that she went to PGIMER in Chandigarh twice a year for tests and found the attitude of some health service providers there “Unpleasant”. “ One of the attendants asked me to sleep with him in lieu of quick processing of reports. I resisted but, finally, I had to give in since I required medicines,” she said. The next time, he asked her to arrange some “ young girl”. PGIMER director Dr K. K. Talwar said he had issued instructions for stipulated departmental action against the staff arrested by the police. “ We are duty– bound to set things rights at the institute,” he said.
The authorities at Chandigarh AIDS Control Society were not available for comments.
Avnish Jolly, an HIV/ AIDS activist, said the arrest of two healthcare providers for “ Exploiting” HIV– positive women has vindicated the MAIL TODAY investigation. “But, this is the tip of the iceberg. The police should go deep into it with honesty.” Pinki H. Maddan, president of the Butterfly Nature Club of India, an NGO working for the rights of people living with HIV, said action against the unscrupulous elements had revived public faith in the system of justice. “ The rot must be cleansed,” she said.
The majority of these women were abandoned by their families.Others are fighting emotional, social and economic problems.
Source: Mail Today