New Delhi: Why was the gang-rape victim shifted to Singapore when her health was so precarious? Was the government trying to deflect the protests? And was it to be blamed for her death? The angry questions did the rounds Saturday as Delhiites woke up to the news that the physiotherapy intern had died fighting her grievous injuries miles away from home.
In metro trains and buses, on the streets and inside homes, the anger spilled over. Delhi Police moved swiftly to seal India Gate and surrounding areas to foil street protests, but the ire was palpable.
"This Sheila Dikshit must go," said one woman in Delhi Metro, and many nodded in agreement. "What of the prime minister and the home minister? They woke up so late," added another as the topic escalated into a full-fledged debate.
Women, young and old, professionals and homemakers, joined in animatedly. The capital has excellent medical facilities and the woman was being taken care of, said a young student on her way to give an exam.
There was also the palpable unease that the physiotherapy intern could just as well have been them.
She was battling on valiantly and had even given two statements on her ordeal, added another concerned citizen. Then why was she moved? It was a six hour flight even though it was an air ambulance?
The questions found echo elsewhere and the government was the unmistakeable target. For lax policing that had led to the gang-rape and torture on Dec 16, and for taking the risky decision to move the grievously injured 23-year-old to Singapore.
The girl had had a cardiac arrest, suffered significant brain injuries and was in an extremely critical condition when she was admitted to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital Thursday morning, the hospital had said.
Besides a prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, "as well as significant brain injury", said Kelvin Loh, Mount Elizabeth Hospital's chief executive officer.
Doctors here had said moving her abroad in such a condition was "unusual".
"I can't understand the logic behind it, or rather it is unusual to transfer the girl from Delhi to Singapore when the patient has suffered a cardiac arrest, as I have been informed by the media," Samiran Nundy, chairman, department of surgical gastroenterology and organ transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS Friday when the young woman struggled for life.
The 23-year-old victim was brutally beaten and raped by six men on a moving bus in Delhi Dec 16. She was left with severe multiple intestinal, abdominal and other injuries and flown to Singapore late Wednesday.
"My suggestion would have been to stabilise her in India and get her out of the crisis; then do her intestinal transplant later. One cannot think about intestinal transplant at this moment. First, the infection spreading in her should be stopped, then one can think about transplant," Nundy said.
Another senior doctor from the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, requesting anonymity, said: "Maybe it was politically logical to shift the patient. But as a doctor, I would say it is totally insensitive to shift the patient with her infection spreading. Shifting now, that too within a few hours of cardiac arrest, is thoughtless."
On Saturday morning, those fears were realised. The 23-year-old left to die after being brutally tortured and raped was finally dead.