PATNA: The prevailing public anxiety in Bihar following the ban on currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations caused critical delay in taking a three-year-old rape victim to a referral hospital as the ambulance driver refused to accept the banned notes from the girl’s family.
After the three-year-old girl was found raped and badly injured in Phulwaria in Begusarai district, local police promptly arrested the accused and took the girl to the Sadar Hospital nearby. Doctors there administered first aid to the girl and referred her to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Patna. But getting the ambulance to take the girl there proved hard for her family.
The driver of the government-run 1099 ambulance allegedly refused to accept currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 from the victim’s family, thus leading to a three-hour delay in her reaching PMCH. “The driver wanted the cash for diesel in the ambulance and his wage. He agreed to take the girl to PMCH when some people gave him currency notes of Rs 100 denomination, but it was three hours after he was approached,” said a source. Although the ambulance is run by the government, drivers are privately employed, he added.
The minor rape victim’s condition is stated to be stable at PMCH. Police sources said she was raped by a man in his late 20s living in her neighbourhood.
Despite assurances by the Centre and efforts by banks to exchange the banned currency notes with new ones, there was massive anxiety across Bihar. Queues as long as five km were seen outside many bank branches. Most post offices in Bihar and Jharkhand, where large crowds had gathered since 10 AM to get their currency notes exchanged, had not received the new currency notes as late as 3 PM.
A clash between the staff of a fuel station and buyers took place in Ara in Bihar when the staff refused to accept the banned notes. Most shops in rural areas in Bihar and Jharkhand remained shut on Wednesday. In the towns, business remained thin at major shopping complexes.