Mob vandalises JPMC ward after hospital's refusal to hand over Covid-19 patient's body

Published May 15, 2020
A broken glass counter is seen at the vandalised JPMC ward. — Photo: Facebook
A broken glass counter is seen at the vandalised JPMC ward. — Photo: Facebook

Over a dozen people barged into and vandalised the isolation ward at Karachi's Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), late on Thursday evening, after a coronavirus patient being treated there died, officials said.

The violence occurred after the hospital's administration refused to hand over the patient's body to the family.

The mob managed to take the patient's body outside the ward but it was brought back inside after Rangers personnel arrived at the scene.

Videos taken of the ward, where 37 Covid-19 patients were being treated, after the attack showed pieces of glass, furniture and fans strewn on the floor. The glass windows of a counter were also shattered.

At least eight to nine people were arrested after police and Rangers were called to the facility, JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali told Dawn.com.

Glass strewn on the floor of the ward. — Photo: Facebook
Glass strewn on the floor of the ward. — Photo: Facebook

According to the JPMC director, a 60-year-old man was brought to the hospital from the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Ojha campus in critical condition. He had pulmonary issues, fever and a cough and his attendants were counselled about his condition time and again, she said.

The attendants weren’t allowed to go upstairs where the patient was admitted. However, after he passed away, a huge crowd gathered outside the facility before bursting inside and ransacking the ward.

At least eight staff nurses, as many doctors, two ward boys, a receptionist, two janitors besides gatekeepers and security staff were present at the ward when the incident occurred.

A view of the vandalised ward. — Photo: JPMC admin
A view of the vandalised ward. — Photo: JPMC admin

No one was injured in the incident. "But the mob broke the doors, glass windows, ceiling fans, tables, computers ... everything they could lay their hands on," Dr Jamali said.

"When a Covid-19 patient dies, the hospital administration calls the district health officer, who arranges the ghusl (bathing of a body) and burial with Edhi staff. They bury the body in a far-off graveyard," explained Dr Jamali.

"I would suggest that we rethink this policy of not allowing the family to see the deceased," she said. "They are someone's loved one. Give the family proper hazmat suits and let them wash the body and bury them."

While noting that it is "an emotionally challenging time for everyone", Dr Jamali said: "I would just request people not to ransack hospitals like this. Doctors are risking their lives to save yours."

Meanwhile, Saddar Station House Office Arshad Afridi said eight people have been detained following the incident. He added, however, that an FIR had not been registered yet as police were "talking to the hospital management" about it.

Asked about the FIR, Dr Jamali told Dawn.com that the police wanted the hospital administration to file a complaint. "Why should I file a complaint? This is a public hospital. It's the state's responsibility to provide security. If I register an FIR and tomorrow these people attack me for retribution, who will be responsible then?" she questioned.

Opinion

A fragmenting ummah
Updated 23 Jul 2021

A fragmenting ummah

Muslims are suffering in many parts of the world, all of which is known by other Muslims, but that nevertheless continues.
Virtual vultures
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Virtual vultures

Pegasus software has stirred a storm of indignation across the globe.
Shifting goalposts
Updated 20 Jul 2021

Shifting goalposts

Afghanistan is one place where proxy war by regional and bigger powers has always been a constant.

Editorial

India’s admission
Updated 21 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.
New blow for Pak-Afghan ties
Updated 20 Jul 2021

New blow for Pak-Afghan ties

Islamabad police need to build a watertight case around their final conclusions because the stakes could not have been higher.
20 Jul 2021

FDI decline

THE worrisome, sharp decline in the more permanent, non-debt-creating foreign direct investment, or FDI, should be a...
20 Jul 2021

Another tragic accident

ALMOST every other week, if not every other day, newspapers report deadly road and rail accidents. It has been ...