Pained by a recent attack on a woman health worker at night by two bike-borne assailants while she was returning home after duty, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the police to pull up their socks to protect lives of COVID-warriors like her from unscrupulous elements. “We are not taking it as a solitary issue. We are taking note of it as the issue will have larger ramifications for the future. Time has come to put a stop to it,” a Bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath said.
The Bench hoped that with the court taking cognisance of the matter, it would send a signal to such bad elements. On Monday night, a nursing assistant returning home on her two-wheeler after work was attacked in Alappuzha by two bike-borne assailants with the intention of robbery, but they then tried to abduct her as she did not have any valuables on her, police said.
The assailants, who gave chase when she resisted their attempts to abduct her, fled when they saw an approaching police patrol, the Station House Officer of Thrikunnapuzha police station, where a case of robbery has been filed, told PTI on Tuesday.
During the hearing, government pleader S Kannan told the Bench that a FIR has been lodged in relation to the incident and police were trying to identify the culprits.
He said it was a solitary incident.
Disagreeing with the submission, the Bench said that while it was a law and order issue, since a COVID warrior was attacked it was going to consider the matter as part of its proceedings in relation to the recent attacks on doctors and health workers at hospitals.
The Bench further said that where COVID warriors and their services are concerned, society has the duty to ensure they are protected and kept away from harm.
“Obviously, the police now need to pull up their socks and ensure that the lives of all these warriors are sufficiently protected,” the court said.
The Bench perused the action taken report of the State Police Chief with regard to the court’s earlier directions relating to ensuring security of the public and private hospitals and noted that he has issued executive directions on September 20 to all his officers to take stern action in cases of attack on healthcare workers.
State Police Chief Anil Kant, on August 27, directed all Commissioners of Police and Deputy Commissioners of Police to strengthen the existing police aid posts in the hospitals and ensure round- the-clock surveillance by the police in the casualty and outpatient departments to curb atrocities against doctors and health workers, Kannan told the Bench.
Subsequently, on September 20, the State Police Chief directed all SHOs to react swiftly and quickly to complaints by hospitals or their staff and to take necessary action without delay, the government pleader told the court.
The State Police Chief’s order came in the wake of the High Court’s September 9 direction that a quick response from the police is necessary to ensure safety of health professionals from assaults and prevent people from taking law into their hands.