Pathanamthitta: The police have obtained crucial evidence in the form of an audio recording in the sexual assault of a 19-year-old COVID positive girl by an ambulance driver while she was being taken to hospital in the Pathanamthitta district in Kerala on Saturday night.
The police said the accused, Naufal, 29, of Panaykachira house, Kirikadu south, Kayamkulam, had planned the assault beforehand. He has been arrested.
The police also examined an audio recording in which Naufal tells the victim he would lose his job and life if she told anyone about the incident. The audio was recorded by the victim without his knowledge and it would form a crucial evidence in the case, the police said.
Naufal, the driver of '108' ambulance, a part of the ‘Kaniv’ (Kerala Ambulance Network for Indisposed Victims) project of the health department, sexually assaulted the girl Saturday night at a deserted place in Aranmula.
The girl had shifted to a relative’s place after her mother and others in her house tested positive for COVID. However, she also was also found to be positive while at the relative’s home.
She was put in an ambulance around 10pm on Saturday, but the vehicle did not go to Pandalam hospital, which was just 10 minutes away. Instead, she was put in another ambulance from Adoor General Hospital that was carrying a COVID positive woman. The driver assaulted her while going to the Pandalam hospital after dropping the other woman at the Kozhencherry Taluk Hospital, the police said, adding this indicates that the assault was pre-planned.
The ambulance did not follow the rule that stipulates female patients are to be accompanied by female health workers, they said.
Naufal, who was an accused in a previous attempted murder case and many other cases, has also been charged under sections relating to prevention of atrocities against Scheduled Castes.
On Sunday, the police took him to the spot where he had allegedly committed the crime, to collect evidence. The process, which started around 5:30pm, was completed in five minutes.
Locals had gathered after learning that the accused was being brought to the place. The evidence-gathering was led by the Adoor police. Naufal was taken to the spot in a PPE kit and in handcuffs.
The Pandalam police were also present besides officials from Adoor police.
Onmanorama has learnt that Naufal was recruited without police verification. Any person being hired as an ambulance driver under the Kaniv project has to produce the Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to get the job. But Naufal had told authorities that he had applied for the PCC with the Kayamkulam police station and that he was yet to receive it.
The police clearance certificate indicates that a person doesn’t have any criminal history. Naufal, however, was an accused in an attempted murder and many other cases in the past.
Kerala's health department operates the 108 ambulance service in association with GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVKEMRI), which is responsible for staff recruitment, including ambulance drivers.
“Naufal had submitted a copy of the request he had made to the Kayamkulam police station seeking a PCC. He had said that he would produce the certificate as soon as it was issued. He submitted the letter sometime in December-January,” a GVKEMRI official had said.
The Kayamkulam police said they could not confirm if Naufal had applied for the certificate.
Girl in quarantine molested
In another incident, a complaint has been filed against a health inspector for allegedly molesting a girl under observation for COVID in Thiruvananthapuram.
The health inspector, a native of Kulathupuzha, Kollam, has been taken into police custody.
In her complaint, the girl, who is a neighbour of the inspector, said the incident happened when she went to his house to get the COVID test certificate.