KARACHI: The shock resignation of 200 staff of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Medical College (SBBMC) in Lyari led to a shutdown of the emergency department of the Lyari General Hospital on Saturday.
Teachers, doctors and professors were among those who had stepped down after claiming that they were not provided adequate security on campus.
The vice principal SBBMC, Dr Anjum Rehman, said, “We took this step because we are not secure here.” She hinted that the staff were threatened by the Lyari gangsters, but refrained from giving any details. “I can’t tell who threatened us, if they are from inside the college or outside,” she said. “But what I know is that these people made everyone upset.”
The problem is worse for lady doctors and professors, who are in greater number, and who also work at night, added Rehman.
Health Secretary Rizwan Ahmed held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the matter and set up a monitoring committee for keeping a check on law and order on the campus. A heavy contingent of police will be deployed in the college from Monday morning, according to SP South Range Naeem Shaikh, who was present in the meeting, with the principal and the faculty of SBBMC. The meeting decided that measures will be taken to ensure peace in all the educational institutions.
However, the secretary was informed that none of the faculty members had resigned. Ahmed said that the staff shared their concerns in the meeting but he assured them that no threats or harassment will be tolerated during the classes from now on. “Classes and emergency services will resume from Monday,” he said. He told the staff to contact the police at once on the slightest threat.
The college and hospital staff belong to different ethnicities. One of the doctors, told The Express Tribune that some people “who seemed to be gangsters” often visited the college and harassed them, especially the female doctors. “We were harassed every day,” he said. “We would be abused or told to do something at gunpoint. So, we had to resign.”
Their action also brought the emergency department at Lyari General Hospital (LGH) at a standstill causing a lot of panic among the residents.
“I don’t know what happened. The gates have been closed since I came,” said Akhtar Baloch, a resident. “They [hospital management] are telling me to come back in one or two days.” He was in despair, “I am poor. Where else will I go?”
However, the principal of the Lyari medical college categorically denied that any boycott happened. “All the doctors were present today and worked as usual,” claimed Dr Iqbal Memon. “If they had resigned then their attendance would not have been marked in the register.”
Zafar Baloch, the former president of Peoples Amn Committee (PAC), dismissed the hidden allegations. According to him, the PAC always supported Dr Rehman and nobody from Lyari ever teased or harassed anyone in the college.
“Why did these people not go to the police and contacted the media instead?” he countered. “This means something is fishy.” He said that this is not the first time Dr Rehman has behaved like this and alleged that she was manipulating the management into making her the principal.
However, according to the police, no one from the college staff got in touch with them regarding the threats. “There was no protest and no violent incident occurred. It seemed like an internal matter but the police still went there and recorded the statements of staff and the college management, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2011.