Dr. Azeem Malik, Chief Medical Officer of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) at Aligarh Muslim University, who had earlier this month claimed that the FSL report in the Hathras woman’s case “holds no value”, was asked on October 20 “not to perform any further duties”. His colleague Dr. Obaid Haque who had attested the Hathras victim’s medico legal case report was issued a similar letter. According to the The Wire, it was on October 16 that Dr. Azeem received a letter saying that the proposal to appoint him as temporary CMO at the JNMCH could not be acceded to. Then, on October 20, he was given an urgent notice terminating him from his post at the hospital along with Dr. Haque.
On October 20, both doctors received letters signed by the Chief Medical Officer in-charge Dr. S.A.H. Zaidi which stated: “This is to inform you that as directed by the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tariq Mansoor via telephone on 20.10.2020 at 11:14 am, your appointment on the post of Medical Officer, Emergency & Trauma, JNMCH, is rejected with immediate effect. Therefore, you are requested not to perform any further duties.”
On October 5, Dr. Azeem Malik had told the Indian Express that, “The samples were collected 11 days after the woman was allegedly raped, while government guidelines strictly say forensic evidence can only be found up to 96 hours after the incident. This report can’t confirm rape in this incident.” The victim had been admitted to JNMC Hospital for her treatment for 14 days before being shifted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi a day before her death.
This statement stood directly in contravention with Mr. Prashant Kumar’s (Additional Director General, Uttar Pradesh- Law and Order) statement that said the FSL report of the victim suggested there were no traces of sperm and hence she was not raped.
When the AMU administration was contacted by The Indian Express, they said, “The administration has not suspended any doctor related to Hathras incident. Two months back, there were vacancies because existing CMOs took leave. Few of them were infected with Covid. 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 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.”
The Wire also reported that the Chief Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Shahid Siddiqui, according to Dr. Azeem, had been “scolded” by the VC the day after his statement had come out in the press. “The VC had called the principal, and scolded him. We had got an indication that day that we will have to face the wrath in some form. There was nothing wrong in giving statements to the press. Ask any doctor, they will say the same thing as me. But it is happening probably because it made headlines,” he said.
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.
He informed Indian Express that, “Earlier I was scolded but they didn’t do anything. Late in September, I had filed my application for an extension, but they have rejected it a month later. We have been terminated and they have not given us any reason.”
The Wire contacted AMU vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor about the termination of Dr Azeem and Dr. Obaid’s services and received a response on his behalf from the AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai. Contesting the claim that Azeem has been sacked for his statement in the press, Mr. Kidwai said, “Dr Azeem has been working on leave vacancy whose term expired on October 8, hence question of termination of his service does not arise. Casual Medical officer is group one service and temporary appointment cannot be made since there were many Covid patients. Now with improved situation the ad hoc appointment of two more doctors, Dr. Obaid and Dr. Faheem, were not approved. It is [a] pure administrative decision [that has] nothing to do with the Indian Express interview.”
On October 21, 2020 the Resident Doctor’s Association of JNMCH issued an urgent notice to the VC 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 utilize its democratic rights to safeguard the interests of the doctor’s fraternity.”
Source: Twitter (Mojo Story)
This suspension notice comes a day after the team of Central Bureau of Investigation visited the Aligarh Hospital with respect to the Hathras atrocity. The 19-year-old Dalit girl was admitted at JNMCH on September 14 and 8 days later on September 22, her statement was recorded where she named the 4 upper caste men who had raped and attacked her. She passed away on September 29 at Safdarjung Hospital Delhi.
The letters can be seen here: