In a sad outcome of a regular VVIP security proceeding, a patient with critical kidney failure lost his life in Chandigarh, India on his way to the hospital on Tuesday.
Sumit Prakash Verma (32) died on Tuesday after the security personnel allegedly delayed the entry of the vehicle carrying him to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh. The VVIP in question was no one less that the Prime Minster of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh who was at the time visiting the hospital for its 30th convocation.
The family of Verma, who was suffering from a major kidney ailment and had breathing trouble, alleged that their vehicle which had come from Ambala, 45 km from Chandigarh, was stopped at different gates of the institute by securitymen, leading to wastage of crucial time.
Traffic was halted on roads taken by the prime minister from the airport to the PGIMER and the vehicle had to make several detours. When they finally arrived at the main gate of the institute the security personnel posted there asked them to try another entrance.
The family went from one person to the other begging for entry as Verma lost precious moments.
“We went to the emergency and high emergency wards. He held my hands and said I won’t live for long. He was alive for an hour’s time in PGI. We had a harrowing time for two hours. As tears dropped from his eyes, I understood that he had breathed his last,” said victim’s niece.
“Our uncle was crying, saying please save me. He was only 32. My humble request to the PM is that the family should be looked after,” said Dheeraj Verma, victim’s nephew.
Now Verma’s family: His young widow and two children have no savings to fall back on, as Verma, a small businessman, was ailing for the last two years.
After the news broke out, PM’s Office (PMO) asked the hospital for a report though the hospital authorities maintained that no one was denied entry. In wake of the unfortunate incident the PM later on asked the authorities to be “more sensitive” to the concerns of the common man while making security arrangements.
The PM also followed this up with an apology letter addressed to the widow of Mr. Verma:
This is the text of the letter that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to the family of a patient who died during his visit to Chandigarh on Tuesday:
Dear Smt Verma,
I am writing to you to express my profound sense of sadness at the death of your husband Shri Sumit Verma yesterday.I understand that he could not get access to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Educationand Research, Chandigarh in time because of the restrictions in place for my visit there.This is something I deeply regret. I have issued instructions so that in future authorities are more sensitive to the concerns of the common man while imposing such restrictions for reasons of security.
With regardsYours sincerely
Prime Minister’s letter
Sources reported that the family had accepted the apology and a compensation of INR 200,000.
Meanwhile in an interview with a national news channel the Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), S S Srivastav, claimed that the security arrangements had no hand in the death of the patient. He blamed the death on the fact that the family was travelling in a private vehicle and not an ambulance which made it pass through all the normal security protocols.
CNN-IBN: The Prime Minister has written to the family of the person who died because his security would not let him through into the hospital, apologising for what happened. The Prime Minister’s security as well as the local police are under the scanner. Would you like to clarify as to what exactly happened?
S S SRIVASTAV: Incidentally what happened was that they traveled in a private vehicle. There was no ambulance or any such vehicle that moved from there and there were some traffic diversions. We normally stop the traffic for a minimum possible time and Chandigarh has the advantage that there are multiple roads and crossings. So we normally ensure that the stoppage time is of not more than 2-3 minutes and then again we try to clear off the traffic as a soon as possible. So this family apparently got delayed a little bit because of one of the stoppages and subsequently they reached the PGI and they were guided to the appropriate gate from where they were supposed to enter.
He also claimed that the family was escorted by security personnel to the emergency gate as they had reported to the wrong gate.
This is not a stray incident of discomfort to common people due to the elaborate security infrastructure around VVIP/VIP security. Hopefully the security personnel will take note of the issue and in future such unfortunate incidents would not be repeated.