The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has decided to extend the tenure of Dr. Azeem Malik and Dr. Obaid Haque of the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital (JNMCH), after their services were terminated by the AMU administration allegedly due to their remarks to the media pertaining to the Hathras rape and murder case.
The two doctors had contradicted the Uttar Pradesh Police’s claim that the 19-year-old girl was not raped. They had said that the medical report was collected way too late to determine the commission of a sexual offence.
“On the request of the Chief Medical officer of the hospital, received on Wednesday, the university has given its nod to the proposal to extend the tenure of the two doctors,” AMU spokesperson Omar Saleem Peerzada told Firstpost.
The termination letter of the two doctors was issued by Doctor S.A.H. Zaidi, the Chief Medical Officer in-charge, a day after the CBI team had visited the Hospital to investigate the gang rape and murder of the Dalit girl.
On October 21, 2020 the Resident Doctor’s Association of JNMCH had issued an urgent notice to the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University condemning the termination of the two doctors demanding the hospital authorities to the order immediately to protect the rights of doctors. The notice stated, “We have strong reasons to believe that that this is a decision influenced by vendetta politics aimed to suppress independent voices. If their suspension is not revoked within 24 hours, RDA will convene a GBM and will utilise its democratic rights to safeguard the interests of the doctor’s fraternity.”
The two doctors told FirstPost reporters on October 20 that “they were quite taken aback by this step because they had not been given a chance to present their view to the authorities.” The Wire had also reported that the President of the Progressive Medicos and Scientific Forum (PMSF) Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti wrote to the AMU Vice Chancellor, demanding the “revocation of the termination order of two the Medical officers.” The letter, which was sent by mail on October 22, states that it appears that the two doctors have “paid the price for providing factually correct and scientifically sound information pertaining to the samples of the Hathras rape victim.” The letter further mentioned that this episode comes at a time when universities across the country are “struggling hard to defend democratic values and the fundamental rights” of freedom of expression.
The AMU authorities have earlier denied the allegations of termination as “highly speculative” and said the two doctors were engaged on a temporary one-month vacancy from September 9, 2020. They were quoted saying that, “There was an emergency and the two doctors -Dr Malik and Dr Haque were only appointed to fill the leave vacancies. Now that the CMOs are back, there are no leave vacancies, hence their services are not required.” Later they issued another statement on October 21, 2020 saying “It has come to our notice that the doctors aren’t happy with the decision. We are looking into their grievances and they might be adjusted somewhere else in the hospital.”
Dr. Azeem Malik, the erstwhile Chief Medical Officer of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) at Aligarh Muslim University, had claimed that the FSL report in the Hathras woman’s case holds no evidentiary value as it was collected 11 days late. His colleague Dr. Obaid Haque had attested the Hathras victim’s medico legal case report.
Dr. Obaid Haque while talking to The Indian Express said, “I was last paid in August. We were hired because our seniors weren’t well. That time, we were told to join immediately. I did my Master’s in surgery from AMU and graduated this year. I worked during the pandemic and risked my life and now they have terminated us because Dr Malik spoke to the media and they think that I leaked information. I am still not sure why I am being targeted. Three days ago, I came to know that my appointment will be rejected. We still don’t have a written statement from the Vice-Chancellor about this… This is sad, we didn’t do anything wrong.” Dr Malik, when contacted, also said he wasn’t given last month’s salary and was “scolded” by his seniors because he had given his “personal opinion” to the media.
Hathras in Uttar Pradesh has been in the news since September after a young 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gang raped and strangled to death by four upper caste men in Bulgadi village.