Order to shoot at fleeing patients draws flak

Birgunj, May 15

Crisis Management Centre of Parsa district has authorised security personnel to shoot at any COVID-19 infected person who tries to escape, incurring the wrath of National Human Rights Commission.

According to Superintendent of Police Ganga Panta of Parsa, a meeting of the Crisis Management Centre of the district held on Wednesday decided to allow security personnel to use lethal force if required.

Earlier, two COVID-19 persons had escaped from Narayani Sub-regional Hospital on Wednesday. Police nabbed them later the same day.

In view of the incident, the decision has been taken to allow security personnel to use force and even fire shots to prevent any attempt by COVID-19 patients to flee.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Chief District Officer Bishnu Kumar Karki. Narayani Hospital Medical Superintendent Madan Upadhyaya and chiefs of security agencies were also present at the meeting.

Human rights lawyer Mohan Kumar Karna told THT that the order to shoot at fleeing COVID-19 patients was a blatant violation of the rule of law and Parsa administration should withdraw the order. “COVID-19 patients are victims and they should be treated humanely and sympathetically.

Chances of COVID-19 patients fleeing hospitals are high when the treatment arrangements are below standard. I think the government should focus on improving arrangements rather than striking terror among COVID-19 patients, Karna said. He added that allowing security personnel to shoot at COVID-19 patients fleeing from hospitals was against the spirit of the constitution that had outlawed the death penalty.

NHRC member Mohna Ansari told THT that the Parsa administration’s decision to use lethal force against COVID-19 patients was inhumane and violated their human rights. She said the administration must withdraw its order.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 16, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.