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Rajkot COVID-19 hospital fire: Three senior management officials arrested


AHMEDABAD: Police have arrested three senior officials of a company that operated a private COVID-19 hospital in Gujarat's Rajkot district where a fire killed five patients last week, a police official said on Tuesday.

The fire broke out around 12.30 am on Friday in the ICU ward of Uday Shivanand Hospital in which five COVID-19 patients were killed, while 28 others were rescued.

On Sunday, the police registered an FIR against five officials of Gokul Healthcare Pvt Limited, which operated the hospital, under Indian Penal Code Section 304-A (causing death by negligence).

The police arrested the company's chairman, Dr Prakash Modha, his son and executive director Dr Vishal Modha, and director Dr Tejas Karamta on Monday night after their COVID-19 test reports were received, an official from Rajkot's Malviya Nagar police station said.

"They have been booked along with two others under the IPC section for causing death by negligence," he said.

On Sunday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Manoharsinh Jadeja told reporters that an investigation into the incident revealed negligence on part of the hospital authorities, and hence the FIR was lodged against them under IPC Section 304-A.

He said the COVID-19 hospital began functioning after getting permission on September 15.

The hospital was started on three floors rented at a hospital being run by Shivanand Mission Trust.

During the investigation into the incident, several norms were found to have been allegedly flouted and negligence of hospital administrators came to fore, he said.

The hospital did not follow fire prevention protocols and safety measures were lacking, which caused difficulties in the rescue operation and resulted in the death of five patients, he had said.

The Gujarat government on Monday constituted an inquiry commission under Gujarat High Court judge DA Mehta (retd) to probe the fire.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday announced appointment of High Court judge KA Puj (retd) as the head of the commission.

The government on Monday said justice Puj has been replaced with justice Mehta due to the busy schedule of the former, so that the inquiry is completed in time.

Justice Mehta Commission has been asked to submit its report in three months, it said.

Justice Puj heads another commission set up to conduct a judicial inquiry into the Shrey Hospital fire in Ahmedabad which killed eight coronavirus positive patients in August this year.

He also heads a panel probing the alleged police atrocities on agitators belonging to the Patidar community during the 2015 quota stir in Gujarat, and Fee Regulation Committee of Ahmedabad Zone as its chairman.