BJP minister gets doctor sacked for speaking the truth

The doctor pointed out on Facebook that a ‘new’ elevator inaugurated by the Health Minister was an old elevator whereas the ‘exclusive Tetanus Ward’ had previously purchased beds from another ward

Photo caption: Facebook page of Bali Bhagat 
Photo caption: Facebook page of Bali Bhagat

Ashutosh Sharma

A doctor in Jammu and Kashmir was terminated from the post of Registrar for writing an “anti-government post” on Facebook. The doctor had just pointed out that a new elevator claimed to have been inaugurated by the state’s Minister for Health and Medical Education at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Jammu last week was 15-20 years old.

The said elevator, launched with fanfare by the minister on March 10, reportedly stopped functioning from the very next day.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had amended state government employees conduct rules last year. The government brought up Service Rules Order (SRO) 525 to bar its employee from writing against the government on social media. Dr Amit Kumar, Registrar, Department of Anaesthesia at GMCH has become the first victim of the amended service rules.

The minister, Bali Bhagat, had posted some pictures on his Facebook page, claiming that he had inaugurated a new lift at the hospital: “Dedicated an exclusive Tetanus Ward and newly installed lift facility to the patients in the Government Medical College, Jammu. Both these facilities have been developed at an estimated cost of 71 lakhs,” the minister wrote.” (Screenshot available with NH)

Dr Amit Kumar, reportedly pointed out the next day that it was not a new elevator but an old elevator which had been given a facelift. “I just asked the minister what was the point in inaugurating a repaired elevator. The ‘exclusive Tetanus Ward’ was also ‘created’ by shifting previously purchased beds from another ward.”

“Eventually, minister’s PRO contacted me through messages and threatened me,” he told the media on Monday, adding, “Whatever I wrote on Facebook, it doesn’t violate the service conduct rules. Is it a misconduct to put a simple question to the minister ?”

The doctor had promptly deleted his comments and apologised to the minister on Facebook as well as to various intermediaries.

“The termination order blocks my chances of applying for a teaching job, as one needs at least three years teaching experience. It states that I will not be provided teaching experience even for the last seven months that I worked as Registrar,” exclaimed the doctor on the verge of tears.

Former Chief Minister of the state Omar Abdullah wondered how ministers in Mehbooba Mufti’s government were allowed to campaign in favour of the accused who killed and raped an 8-year-old girl in Kathua but a doctor penalised for pointing out the truth.

Principal GMCH, Dr Sunanda Raina confirmed the termination of the doctor: “We have initiated action as per the rules. The doctor has been asked to explain his position.”

Meanwhile, doctors at GMCH have decided to go on strike if the termination letter is not revoked by next Monday.

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