Months after the horrific rape of a 16-year-old Adivasi girl in Dharmapuri district came to light, the Tamil Nadu government has sought a probe into government doctors who had initially examined her.
The doctors at the Dharmapuri Medical College Hospital, where Nithya* was brought a day after her complaint to the local police in November last year, allegedly failed to record a case of rape after they examined her. She died at the hospital days after her complaint; the girl’s family and social activists had also alleged negligence, claiming that Nithya was not given proper medical care at the hospital.
Speaking to TNM, K Senthil, President of the Tamil Nadu Medical Council, the body to which doctors in the state are affiliated, confirmed that a complaint had been received.
“They (the government) have given us a complaint based on the preliminary inquiries they have conducted within the department. We will conduct our own separate inquiry and pass orders accordingly. This is with regard to their license. If there is a gross lapse, it is possible that we will take stern action,” he said, adding that the Council would also be forming an inquiry committee.
Nithya, a school student, was raped on November 5 by two men from her locality, Ramesh (22) and Satish (22) when she went to relieve herself outside her home. Despite the family approaching the police the same day, a complaint was registered only the following day. She was examined at the local government hospital and later admitted to a children's home where she had complained of dizziness and nausea. She was then taken to the Dharmapuri Medical College Hospital where tests were conducted. Hospital sources tell TNM that following the medical examination, she had been recommended a TT injection and a course of antibiotics for her pain in the genital region. However, Nithya passed away on November 10.
A discharge summary from the hospital mentioned a sudden collapse in the case record, stating that she could not be revived. She was suspected to have vertigo and ataxia, or a lack of muscle control. The reports by the doctors had made no mention of a sexual assault.
However, after Nithya’s home warden gave a history of ‘attempted rape’, her body was sent for postmortem. The doctors had marked the girl's case sheet as 'medico-legal' for the police investigation and did not record sexual assault in their preliminary inquiry. Her post mortem report had revealed rape and rape charges were added to the FIR by the police only after her death. The parents had alleged police inaction in the case and had held protests after her death.
The parents of the teen had approached the police station on the day that Nithya had been raped and had narrated her ordeal to the officers. However, a complaint was not registered at the time and an FIR was registered only the next day and did not include sections for rape under the Indian Penal Code. This, despite Nithya and her parents detailing the rape. Further, her parents said that the cops had demanded a bribe of Rs 2,000 for fuel, to drive to their 'far away' tribal hamlet.