Accident: Five months after an ambulance driver hit a five-year-old boy in Dewathang, police  on May 11 charged the 23-year-old driver to court for culpable driving and negligence.

The incident occurred on December 5, 2014 when the driver for Dewathang hospital had gone to the army colony, a few kilometres from the hospital to get a patient.  While reversing, the ambulance hit the boy, who fell and struck his head on the cement floor.

The ambulance had immediately taken the boy to the hospital.  He was then referred to Guwahati, India.  The boy was unconscious for eight of the 19 days he was admitted there.  He was later admitted to JDWNR hospital for about 24 days.

Although the boy’s grandfather reported the case to police six days after the incident, the family is now alleging that the police prolonged the case.

The grandfather, Tashi Wangdi, said the families had initially agreed to settle the case with compensation, but later decided to report to police and the court after they could not agree on the compensation amount.

“After we reported to police, the case wasn’t progressing, so we went to court in February this year,” he said. “But the court asked us to get a police investigation report, without which the case couldn’t be registered. Since then we’d been requesting police to charge the case to court.”

The boy’s mother Sonam Zangmo said they wanted this case to be resolved in court, so that they could agree on whatever the law provided because, for her, it was not about the money but about her child.

“Half of my son’s face is distorted and the doctor says that the nerve has been affected because of which he can’t talk properly,” she said. “Dewathang hospital provides physiotherapy twice a week and I have to take him to referral hospital, which is expensive.”

The hospital official said they did not inform police of the incident because, usually, it was the patient’s family who file a complaint.  Also, since it’s a military hospital and the incident occurred inside a military compound, there are some norms the hospital should follow.

“Since both the parties had agreed to settle the case, the hospital didn’t interfere,” health official said. “The child’s facial nerves are affected, which is used for facial expression, and his head was injured but a surgery wasn’t required.”

Meanwhile, a police official said the case got prolonged and was not charged to court immediately because the boy’s family said they had wanted to settle it themselves but kept changing their decision.

“The other reason was because they complained late and, since the boy was referred to two hospitals, we had to wait for the medical reports for evidence,” the police official said.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar