33 yo woman goes 'missing' from Pune jumbo COVID center, family demands investigation

Priya Gaikwad, a 33-year old from Pune, was admitted to Pune’s Jumbo COVID Care Centre on August 29.

Credit : Indie Journal

Pune: Priya Gaikwad, a 33-year old from Pune, was admitted to Pune’s Jumbo COVID Care Centre on August 29 as per her family's claim. The next day, On August 30, her mother, Ragini Surendra Gamre, visited the hospital but was allegedly not allowed to see her daughter as she was high risk for infection due to her age. She was asked to come back directly after 15 days to take her daughter back home. However, when Gamre went to the hospital on September 13th, she says she was told that her daughter Priya had already been discharged. But Priya has not returned or been in contact with anyone since she was first admitted.

“We don’t know what has happened to our daughter. The hospital was not even able to give us the correct date for our daughter’s discharge at first. We also asked the hospital to show us the CCTV footage, but they refused,” said Gamre who has begun indefinite hunger strike outside the hospital on Thursday. 

A missing person’s complaint has been registered by the family in the Shivajinagar police station. In a statement given to the police, Gamre stated that her daughter Priya was staying away from her husband since 2013, and was a mental health patient. “I was called to the hospital on the day after her admission as the hospital staff said that she was refusing to take her medicines. But I was not allowed to meet her as the staff could not locate her at the time. However, even after 14 days, she was nowhere to be found,” the mother wrote in the statement.



Republican Yuva Morcha (Maharashtra region) President Rahul Dambale, who has been supporting the family in the hunger strike said that the hospital staff at the Jumbo COVID Care Centre also refused to cooperate with the police. “How do you think they would treat common people when they don’t even respect the police? Around Rs 200 crores have been spent on the Jumbo hospital facility till date, but is it really helping the public? If we see such negligence in Pune, while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar himself is Pune’s Guardian Minister, we cannot imagine the situation in other cities,” Dambale said.

The Republican Yuva Morcha has demanded that the investigation of the issue must be carried out by a police official of a commissioner level, and also make provisions to ensure that such negligence is not repeated in future. Gamre has also indicated that if no help is received from the police, the family will file a petition at the court.

Indie Journal tried to contact several officials including Pune Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar, Additional Commissioner Rubal Agarwal and Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh. But even after multiple attempts, no comment could be received from any of the officials.

A ‘Jumbo’ controversy

The Jumbo facility, inaugurated in the city with promises to tackle the city’s growing number of COVID cases in the last month, has been a centre of constant controversy and scrutiny since. Doctors, other hospital staff, patients, patients’ family members as well as politicians have all complained of the negligence in treatment, lack of facilities and corruption at the centre. The centre was earlier said to have a capacity of around 850 beds, however, till now, no more than 450 beds have been active at the hospital. Soon after the inauguration, there were reports of several doctors and nurses quitting the hospital concerned for their safety.