PESHAWAR: Doctors at public-sector hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province went on strike on Wednesday alleging that police were refusing to register a First Investigation Report (FIR) against the provincial health minister after he allegedly manhandled their colleague on Tuesday at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. They said their strike would continue until the FIR is registered.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council, which gave the strike call, demanded the KP government register an FIR against Health Minister Hisham Inamullah Khan for allegedly thrashing assistant professor and general surgeon Dr Ziauddin Afridi.
Throughout the province, the medics held protest demonstrations where they were addressed by their leaders, who vowed to continue agitation until an FIR was registered against the minister and his guards who they blamed for thrashing and kicking the surgeon who had to be then treated for head injuries.
Health official had allegedly scuffled with a doctor a day earlier
Reports from Malakand and Hazara divisions indicated that complete lockdown was observed in the government hospitals against the minister and the speakers blamed the government for exercising its powers with an iron fist against the doctors, which they said couldn’t prevent them from struggling for their rights.
The scuffle was triggered on Tuesday, when Dr Afridi, who was disgruntled for being denied a promotion, forcibly entered Khyber Teaching Hospital’s conference room where Professor Nausherwan Burki was chairing a meeting and lobbed eggs in Professor Burki’s direction. Later, the provincial health minister arrived at the hospital and met Dr Afridi but they ended up having a heated argument leading to a physical altercation.
Doctors criticised University Town police for refusing to register a case against the minister and alleged their colleagues who had gone to the police station to lodge a case were kept in illegal custody even if briefly.
The provincial health minister in a statement alleged that doctors have started vandalism and attacked him at the Khyber Teaching Hospital but his guards protected him. Nobody would be allowed to play with patients’ health, he said.
The University Town police station registered an FIR against Dr Afridi for throwing eggs and assaulting the minister booking him under sections 353, 324 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The Khyber Teaching Hospital administration has constituted a committee to probe the matter and recommend measures to resolve the issue.
SP cantonment circle Waseem Riaz said there was a misunderstanding between police and doctors as they were insisting on submitting an FIR against the health minister without completing medico-legal formalities.
He said that doctors were told that a legal course of action would be pursued and investigation would be carried out on merit.
“No doctor was detained in the police station and the YDA [Young Doctors Association] leadership was there for negotiations with police,” SP Riaz said.
He said that there was an impression they were detained by police but it was all a misunderstanding between the two sides which was cleared and they had agreed in principle that police would investigate the matter as per law.
According to representatives of different association of doctors, the protest will continue till the resolution of their demand of registration of a police case against the minister.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019