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Kidnapping fear haunts Balochistan doctors

August 02, 2012


Supporters of PMA protest against the kidnapping of a doctor during a demonstration outside Civil Hospital Quetta. — Photo by PPI

QUETTA, Aug 2: Doctors boycotted their duties in government hospitals across Balochistan on Thursday in protest against the kidnapping of psychiatrist Dr Ghulam Rasool on Wednesday.

They did not turn up for work at emergency wards, out-patient departments (OPDs) and operations theatres.

All private medical centres and clinics in the provincial capital and different parts of the province also remained closed.

Doctors organised protest demonstrations and meetings from the platform of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and said they could not perform their duty in a state of perpetual fear of being kidnapped or killed.

The boycott in government hospitals and private clinics badly affected patients.

OPDs and OTs were closed in all hospitals of Quetta, including Helper’s Hospital, Bolan Medical College Hospital, Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium and Sandeman Civil Hospital.

Thousands of patients visiting government and private hospitals were not attended despite the fact a number of patients among them were in very serious condition because doctors and paramedics had left the hospitals after taking out procession and holding a protest.

The PMA leadership and protesting doctors said that they would not attend patients until the kidnapped Dr Ghulam Rasool was recovered.

Even a man with bullet injuries brought to hospital was not provided medical aid.

Dr Ghulam Rasool, a renowned psychiatrist affiliated with the Bolan Medical College hospital, was kidnapped by armed men on the Brewery Road.

The armed men intercepted his vehicle at gunpoint, offloaded him from his car and forced him to sit inside their vehicle.

They took away the doctor along with them to unknown destination.

The protesting doctors took out a procession from the Sandeman civil hospital and gathered outside the press club.

Doctors raised slogans against the government authorities for their failure in providing protection to doctors.

Dr Sultan Tareen, the president of the Balochistan chapter of the PMA, said emergency operation theatres and out-patient departments of government and private hospitals had been closed in the province for an indefinite period in protest against kidnapping of prominent psychiatrist Dr Ghulam Rasool.

“The government and law-enforcement personnel have completely failed in providing security and protection to people as criminal mafias are at large to abduct senior doctors and other citizens for ransom,” said Dr Tareen.

He said that who would maintain writ of the government in the province when senior authorities of the provincial government had been living in Dubai and Islamabad since long, instead of living in the provincial capital.

He said that all doctors and paramedics had boycotted their duties for an indefinite period and no patient would be examined at out-door patients, casualties and wards until Dr Ghulam Rasool was recovered safely.Dr Tareen said the government had failed to protect the lives of the doctors.

He said that kidnappings had become a profitable business and government inaction had encouraged the criminals to kidnap doctors, lawyers, businessmen and professors.

He said that Dr Din Mohammad was kidnapped from Mastung 10 days ago and he was released on Monday. The next day the armed men kidnapped Dr Ghulam Rasool in broad daylight.

Dr Tareen said that it was not possible for doctors to perform their professional duty in an atmosphere of fear.

He called upon the government to provide security to doctors and take action against the gangs kidnapping doctors.

It is noted that when the doctors started procession and were protesting outside the civil hospital, a man who received bullet injuries in his back was brought to the hospital in a very serious condition.

The relatives of the patient repeatedly requested protesting doctors to immediately provide emergency medical aid to the injured who was in a state between life and death, but doctors and paramedics denied to provide him medical aid as saying their own lives were under threat.

The injured remained in emergency operation theatre for over two hours and later was taken to the Combined Military Hospital.

“I have become helpless as doctors and paramedics have suspended emergency services in the hospital and only female nurses are present who alone could not deal with patients brought in very serious condition to the hospital,” said Dr Nawaz Khan, medical superintendent of Sandeman Hospital.

It may be mentioned that a few days ago Dr Deen Mohammad Bangulzai, a surgeon affiliated with the BMC hospital, was also kidnapped by armed men from Mastung near Lakpass area.

Dr Bangulzai was kept in a well-shaped torture cell.

The kidnappers phoned the family of Dr Bangulzai to pay them Rs8 million ransoms in Jacobabad district of Sindh if they wanted his safe release.

Dr Bangulzai was released when a “Jirga” of Baloch tribes, including Shahwani, Bangulzai and Mohammadshahi threatened to take action against the criminal mafia involved in the kidnapping for ransom. After 24 hours of the release of Dr Bangulzai, the gunmen kidnapped Dr Ghulam Rasool from Quetta.