Missing doctors: Dacoits, you may need us one day, so stop the kidnappings, say doctors

PMA gives government a week to find Prof. Imtiaz Wagan and Dr Azhar Ali Shah


Express November 23, 2011

KARACHI: The doctors of Sindh have given the government a week to find the two doctors who were kidnapped en route to Sukkur on Sunday. They have threatened to halt medical services if their demands are not met.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) held a press conference at the press club and protested the lack of security provided to doctors in the province.

Earlier this week, Prof. Dr Imtiaz Wagan of DUHS and assistant professor Dr Azhar Ali Shah of Ghulam Muhammad Mahar Medical College (GMMMC) went missing as they travelled from Jacobabad to Sukkur. Prof. Dr Wagan was in Sukkur to supervise second-year anatomy examinations. The pair set out on Saturday evening to see a mutual friend in Jacobabad. They reportedly headed back on Sunday afternoon, but when they did not arrive in Sukkur by Sunday evening, the authorities contacted the Jacobabad police. The police found Dr Shah’s car abandoned near the Jacobabad vegetable market.

“Why is the government pushing us up against the wall?” demanded PMA Sindh president Samrina Hashmi as she addressed journalists outside the press club. “If we can stand up and work for our patients we can also stand up for ourselves.”

At least ten doctors have been killed and the safety of the others is at risk, Hashmi alleged. She called on Home Minister Mansoor Wassan to take note of the situation.

Dr Ismail Abbasi, chief medical officer at the Pannu Aqil taluka hospital, also spoke. “Dacoits, you may also need us one day,” he warned. “We treat our patients indiscriminately so why are you targeting us?”

In a show of solidarity with the medical fraternity, Sindh Health Secretary Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi said the department was working with law enforcement agencies and making all efforts to recover the men.

The turnout of doctors at the protest, however, was relatively low. “Doctors are scared for their lives,” said Hashmi. “I just received a message from a doctor, saying she was afraid and didn’t want to come because she wanted to stay out of such politics. I simply told her it could just as easily be her next time.”

Sukkur’s medics continue protests

Wednesday was the third consecutive day of protest in Sukkur. The doctors and paramedics there boycotted the out-patient department on Wednesday and set out from Civil hospital to rally at Minara Road where they staged a demonstration.

Led by the PMA’s Dr Usman Mako, GMMMC Teachers Association president Dr Rafiq Memon, Ghulam Rasool Ghumro and others, the doctors carried placards and shouted their disapproval with the government and its inability to find their missing colleagues.

Meanwhile in Jacobabad, the PMA Jacobabad president, Dr Rasheed Memon, and Dr AG Ansari led scores of doctors and paramedics to demonstrate outside the SSP office.

While the SSP was not available, the DSP met the protesting doctors and assured them that they were doing their best to recover the missing doctors after which they dispersed.

Doctor kidnapped

A man identified as Dr Ratan Kumar was abducted from Mehran Clinic on Wednesday, said Bin Qasim police. A witness said that some men barged into the clinic and took the doctor away. Dr Ratan’s brother, Ameet said that they were from the Dadu district and their lands were occupied by a police official. He added that Dr Ratan was in town for Eidul Azha and was attacked. He was taken to the hospital and a case was registered at the Thiriri Muhabat police station. Ameet said that the official had lodged a counter FIR on November 21 and the Thiriri Muhabat police could no arrest his brother and if they had then they had to get the arrest registered at the Bin Qasim police station. SHO Hazoor Bux Solangi said that they would take action against the kidnapping.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.

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