It's a crime that has left Kerala shell shocked. Even as the state is mourning the death of a 7-year-old mercilessly assaulted by his mother's partner, new evidence in the case shows the brutality of attacker ran much deeper. CCTV footage from the Chazhikattu hospital in Idukki district clearly shows that the assaulter – Arun Anand – tried to delay treatment for the child, thereby ensuring that the child did not get medical help in the Golden Hour after the trauma.
On March 28, after the assault, the victim was first taken to Chazhikattu hospital, a private institution in Idukki’s Thodupuzha. It was his mother and Arun Anand who took him to the hospital.
It is in Chazhikattu hospital that the doctors first observed odd behaviour from the couple and alerted the police. The boy’s mother and the accused had brought him to the hospital in the wee hours of Thursday. The unconscious boy was rushed to the emergency ward and the doctors there noticed how the couple was trying to delay the boy’s treatment.
Dr Sheikh Ansari, the Medical emergency specialist at the hospital, who was the first to interact with the couple, told TNM that they gave conflicting statements and were very reluctant to get the victim admitted and even take his CT scan.
"The three of them arrived at the hospital around 3:55 am. The victim could not breathe and we intubated him immediately. When I asked the parents what happened, both of them gave very different statements. That was the first red flag," Dr Ansari said.
The mother, who initially spoke to him, said that she and the accused (her partner) were not at home during the incident. She added that the boy was found unconscious near the sofa when they reached the house. "She said that the boy had probably woken up in the middle of the night to play and fallen somewhere. I found her statement suspicious," he said.
Following this, the accused, Arun Anand, who was initially waiting outside, entered the hospital. He was heavily inebriated and offered a completely different version of what had happened, Dr Ansari said. “The accused told me that the boy was beaten up by the neighbour's child. This is when I issued a medico legal certificate (MLC) and alerted the police," he said.
Meanwhile, when the doctor asked for a CT scan, the mother and Arun were reluctant, and argued with the doctor. The scan was done once the doctors insisted, and it revealed that he was bleeding from his brain and required urgent surgery. His injuries did not seem like accident wounds, Dr Ansari added.
"I alerted the neuro surgeon and the anaesthetist and briefed the mother and accused about how critical the child was. But they were reluctant to admit him in the hospital or give consent for the surgery. They said they will take the victim to some hospital in Ernakulam," Dr Ansari said.
Odd behaviour by the couple led to delay in treatment
Despite multiple conversations with the couple about how critical the victim was, the duo were unresponsive and delayed the boy's treatment, Dr Ansari said. "The boy’s mother was just not mentally present in the situation. She was on her phone constantly and kept making calls. The accused and her were also having private conversations about what their next step should be," the doctor added.
Later, the accused told the doctors and staff that they will take the victim elsewhere as they did not want an operation. By this time, the police had arrived at the hospital.
"We called an ambulance for them, but the couple refused to enter it. Instead the accused fought outside the hospital arguing that the three of them would come in his car. These visuals are captured in the CCTV footage," he added.
The CCTV footage shows the boy on a stretcher, but the couple reluctant to enter the ambulance. At one point of time, Arun can be seen holding the woman. It is unclear whether he was stopping her from entering the ambulance.
The police finally made the couple enter the ambulance by force and travel with the victim. By this time, the boy had gone 1.5 hours without receiving treatment.
The Golden Hour is the first hour after a traumatic injury, when emergency treatment is most likely to keep the victim alive. Delaying treatment after trauma reduces chances of survival.
Watch the CCTV visuals here: