Caste During Ramzan in Pakistan: Sewer Cleaner Dies as Fasting Doc Refuses to Treat ‘Filthy’ Body

Umerkot, Pakistan: Lying in a far corner of a Civil Hospital Umerkot, Pakistan, a safai kamgar, or sewer cleaner Irfan Maseeh kept gasping for breath, as his family members pleaded with the staff to treat him. His plight did not move a senior doctor at the facility who refused to touch his sludge covered body as he was "fasting".

Bereaved protesters surround an ambulance with the deceased's body.  

"Dr Yousuf said he would not touch Irfan's dirty body until it was cleaned because he was fasting," the deceased's brother Pervaiz Maseeh told "I cleaned his body, after which the an oxygen pump was sent for Irfan, but that was empty."

The doctor's negligent response to the emergency situation and lack of facilities at the hospital, left Irfan to succumb to death.

Irfan had dived down to clean a manhole on Thursday (June 1) morning when he fell unconscious after inhaling poisonous gases locked inside, Pervaiz said. He added one after another two others jumped inside to save the other, all collapsing due to the same reason.Pervaiz had reached the site after people in the area informed him of the incident.

"When they were eventually taken out, I put Irfan on my back and rushed him to the hospital," the bereaved brother said. "A rickshaw driver stopped us on the way and gave us his vehicle to carry Irfan to the hospital as quickly as possible."But he could not be saved despite all the efforts people around made to get him back to breathe.

Protest carried out after Irfan Maseeh's death. 

The death of Irfan due to the negligence of doctor enraged the family members who started protesting with his body."No one had come to share our loss or express solidarity with us," Pervaiz said. "But Umerkot SSP Usman Bajwa visited us a while back, promising that the responsible doctor would be taken to task and complete investigation would be carried out in the case."

This was not the first death caused by the negligence of staff at Civil Hospital Umerkot, said Pervaiz. "A similar incident took place in 2014 when a sewage cleaner, struggling for life, was referred to Hyderabad for treatment as the facility in Umerkot was not equipped to treat him." 



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