Madikeri: One person has been arrested from Kodagu Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), the designated COVID Hospital of Kodagu District in Madikeri for theft of mobile phones from the Hospital. He was caught along with proof, based on information passed on to the Police by the wife of a COVID victim.
The nabbing operation was led by Kodagu Superintendent of Police Kshama Mishra, who, in the wake of many theft cases reported from the Hospital showing the Administration in poor light, raided the house of the accused and nabbed him along with the phone. He has been identified as Sumanth, a resident of Vincent Compound. He was supplying food to the patients admitted at KIMS and without their knowledge, used to steal their phones. The absence of CCTV cameras inside the Hospital made his job very easy.
The accused had stolen the phone of Ajjamada Ranji Somaiah, who was admitted to KIMS and who subsequently passed away. After stealing the phone, he stole another phone that belonged to a BJP leader from Somwarpet Usha Tejaswi. Inserting her SIM Card into Ranji Somaiah’s phone, the accused was using the phone to avoid detection. While Somaiah’s phone was stolen on May 11, Tejaswi’s phone was stolen on May 4.
Both Tejaswi and Somaiah had reported the theft to the doctors and with no help forthcoming, they had informed the family members. They bought new phones and handed over to Somaiah and Tejaswi.
Lack of security
Somaiah, during phone calls with his wife Parvathi Somaiah, used to complaint about the lack of proper facilities and security in the Hospital. Subsequently, he died due to complications. On Monday (May 24), Parvathi was using her phone and she accidentally saw the photo of her house in Sumanth’s WhatsApp DP.
Sumanth had given his phone number to Parvathi when Somaiah was in the ICU and had demanded money to take care of Somaiah at the Hospital. As Parvathi did not have cash, Sumanth had asked her to send money through Google Pay and had given his phone number.
On suspicion about Sumanth’s WhatsApp DP, Parvathi later informed her fellow villager and President of a Srimangala Primary Agricultural Co-operative Credit Society Ajjamada T. Chengappa who sounded the SP. When a Police team raided Sumanth’s house, he was caught with the stolen mobile phones. He has been taken to custody for questioning about his network in the Hospital and also about possible involvement of others in the thefts.
According to the Madikeri Town Police, Sumanth had a criminal record and he had been arrested in the past for garlanding the statue of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa at Madikeri with slippers. Parvathi said that even at the Hospital, her husband had expressed suspicion about Sumanth’s activities.
Close on the heels of a mobile phone theft accused taken into custody, a woman’s family has complained that her mangalasutra has been stolen from KIMS. The woman had breathed her last on May 25. She was admitted to the Hospital on May 1.
The woman is identified as Kamala from Rasalpura village in Somwarpet Taluk. While admitting to the ICU, family members had not removed the mangalasutra as it is generally removed only when a woman’s husband passes away.
The mangalasutra weighed 25 grams and is worth over Rs. 1.5 lakh. After her cremation, her son Monappa came to the Hospital to collect her belongings and the Hospital staff only handed over a bag but not the mangalasutra. When asked, the Hospital staff feigned ignorance and Somaiah complained to the KIMS Dean and Director Kallichanda Cariappa. He had later lodged a complaint with Madikeri Town Police urging them to find the mangalasutra.
Deeply pained, says Charulata Somal
Expressing shock and deep pain over a series of thefts at Madikeri COVID Hospital, Deputy Commissioner Charulata Somal said that the incidents were most disturbing and lacked humanity. “It pains me to see that thefts of valuables and mobile phones are being stolen from a place where lives are saved. It is a sad situation and discredits all the efforts made to save the patients. I will take serious action and have directed that all wards must have CCTV cameras as only a few wards have them now,” she said.
The Hospital authorities have been directed to investigate and the Police too are conduction parallel investigation. “The hospital functions 24X7 and there are various shifts. It is difficult to say during which the thefts occur. It will be ensured that such incidents will not occur again,” she said.