The Karachi Medical and Dental College, which falls under the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, has been sealed for two days, it emerged on Friday, when the medical institution's principal, faculty and students found the facility's gates locked upon reaching there in the morning.
According to KMDC vice-principal Dr Aqeel Shaikh, atmosphere in the institution heated up and commotion was witnessed on Wednesday when some non-teaching staff were enraged over the non-payment of their dues. Following that, classes were suspended. The tensions continued to heighten over the next two days, he said, adding that Karachi administrator Laeeq Ahmed was informed of the matter.
The administrator issued directives for the formation of a three-member committee, led by Dr Aftab Imatiaz, a professor at KMDC, and the college was sealed on Friday on the committee's recommendation, the vice-principal told The Express Tribune.
He expressed hope that the matter would be resolved by Monday, following which classes would resume at KMDC.
He admitted that non-teaching staff at KMDC were yet to be paid their dues and while the payment of their dues was a rightful demand, their manner of protest was objectionable.
In a statement issued on Friday, Karachi commissioner Laeeq Ahmed said he had sought an explanation from KMDC principal Dr Nargis Anjum for not informing him of the matter immediately. He stated a report on the matter was sent to him on April 7 by Dr Shaikh.
According to the statement issued by the administrator, the principal was informed of the suspension of classes, commotion at KMDC and harassment of patients, attendants and house officers by the institution's staff, while the KMDC's executive committee recommended strict action against laboratory assistant Nadeem Zaidi and Asif Anjum of the accounts department in connection with the matter.
The statement said the principal was not coming to the institution during the entire episode without having given an application for the leave.
The administrator has also asked the Central district SSP to arrest persons involved in creating a ruckus and forcefully suspending classes at KMDC, besides taking measures for providing security to the medical institution's staff, students and patients.
The administrator has sent a letter to the SSP for the purpose.
Meanwhile, the institution's employees staged a demonstration outside KMDC's closed gates, demanding payment of their salaries.
"We are staging a peaceful protest. We found the gates closed when we reached the college today," said one of the protesters, who asked not to be named. He added, "We received a message on Whatsapp last night, informing us about the college's closure, but no notification has been issued. The college's closure, then, is illegal." He also decried the non-payment of salaries.
"Even grade-16 and grade-17 officers have not been paid their salaries. We haven't received our salaries for the past two months. Several others have not been paid their salaries for the past four months," he said. "The management had assured us that our salaries would be released in April, but we haven't been paid yet, while we continue to face financial problems. We have been protesting for the past four days."
He claimed that by issuing the directives for sealing KMDC the administrator wanted to show his power.
Condemning the move, the protesters termed it sheer injustice, with some claiming that they had received threats the previous day. The protesters urged the Sindh government to help them get their rights and appealed to the provincial local government minister to take notice of the matter.
They also denounced the formation of a five-member executive committee, also headed by Dr Imtiaz, to manage the finances, accounts and other affairs of KMDC.
The KMDC principal has no authority over the committee and the principal couldn't take any decision without consulting the committee, they said, adding that it was unfair.
The move caused inconvenience to patients as well who were unable to get any healthcare assistance on the day.
Many of them, standing outside the closed doors of the healthcare facility, complained that they had travelled to Karachi from farflung areas, spending significant amounts.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TUFAIL AHMED