A man was forced to carry his 10-year-old son’s body on a motorcycle in Andhra Pradesh’s Tirupati after private ambulance drivers at a hospital allegedly demanded hefty charges and then stopped another ambulance from transporting it. The police have arrested six ambulance drivers in connection with the incident that happened at Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia Government General Hospital Tuesday morning.
According to the police, Y Joshua, who was undergoing treatment for kidney disease at the hospital, died and his father Y Murali and uncle approached the private ambulances parked at the hospital to take the body back to their village Chitvel in Annamayya district. The drivers allegedly quoted charges ranging from Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 for the 90-km journey and those were unaffordable for Murali, said the police.
“After Murali sought help from his villagers, A few of them arranged for an ambulance for free from Rajampet which is 80 km away from the hospital. But when it reached the hospital, the ambulance drivers present there stopped it from entering the premises and attacked its driver. The attacked driver called up the owner of the vehicle. The owner sent another driver on a motorcycle to the hospital and the father was asked to carry the body’s body on it. The father hopped on to the back of the motorcycle and carried the body to the outskirts of Tirupati on it. From there, he got an ambulance to carry the body back to the village. We have registered a case and arrested six drivers,” Deputy superintendent of police (Tirupati east) T Murali Krishna told The Indian Express.
The main culprit has been identified as T Nanda who had organised all the ambulance drivers into a syndicate which quotes exorbitant charges for even short distances, the DSP said.
Ruia hospital superintendent T Bharti said that an inquiry has been set up and the hospital would take measures to ensure such incidents do not happen again. The state government also asked the district collector to inquire into the incident.
The police said that they have warned all ambulance drivers and their unions of action if they quote exorbitant rates or obstruct ambulances hired directly by relatives of patients. They have also called all ambulance owners for a meeting Wednesday to discuss and fix rates so that there would be no discrepancy in charges and people would not be exploited.
This is the second such incident involving ambulance drivers working at the Ruia hospital. In May 2021, three drivers were arrested for allegedly assaulting another driver for agreeing to transport a patient to his house, which was 40 km away, for Rs 3,500 after they had earlier demanded Rs 10,000. The patient died in the ambulance itself.