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Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Punjab damaged mattress row: ‘Humiliated’ by AAP minister, V-C resigns

On Friday, Punjab Health Minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra had forced Dr Raj Bahadur to lie down on a damaged mattress in front of staff and patients at a hospital during an inspection.

Videograb of Dr Raj Bahadur on the hospital bed.

HOURS after Health Minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra forced him to lie down on a damaged mattress in front of staff and patients at a hospital during an inspection, Dr Raj Bahadur, the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences in Punjab’s Faridkot district, submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister’s Office.

Three other top doctors of a medical college attached to the university also sought to be relieved of administrative duties. While they cited personal reasons, their applications coincided with Dr Bahadur’s resignation, amid outrage within the medical fraternity in the state.

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann reportedly apologised to the V-C on Jouramajra’s behalf and asked him to stay on, but Dr Bahadur – who sent his resignation on Friday night – is said to have replied that he felt humiliated and could not continue. His personal assistant O P Chaudhary also tendered his resignation.

Despite repeated attempts, Jouramajra could not be reached for comments.

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Dr Bahadur got support from across the medical fraternity following the incident at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital (GGSMCH) in Faridkot. The Indian Medical Association questioned the treatment towards a person of the stature of the V-C of a medical university.

The teachers’ association at GGSMCH released a statement on Saturday demanding that Jouramajra apologise for his act. “His rude behaviour has demoralised the medical fraternity,” they said.

Punjab Medical Council member Dr Manoj Sobti said they fully stand by Dr Bahadur. “He took the right decision in submitting his resignation. Such behaviour should not be tolerated.”

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Minister Jouramajra had come for an inspection of the Skin and VD Department of GGSMCH when he made Dr Bahadur lie on the mattress, ostensibly to demonstrate the pitiable condition of patient facilities.

Jouramajra ignored the V-C’s protests that the medical superintendent was responsible for the management of a hospital. The minister’s supporters even lifted a corner of the mattress to show that it was damaged and had fungal growth.

A reputed orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Bahadur has experience of more than 45 years as a teacher, researcher and administrator. He earlier served as Director, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, and as Head of Department of Orthopaedics at PGIMER, Chandigarh. He has been serving as V-C of the university on extension.

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Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma said many administrative officials were resigning “one after another” after the episode. “It seems Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann have to give some training to their MLAs on how to behave in public… In Ludhiana, an AAP MLA misbehaved with a police official… Their leaders are power drunk.”

Akali Dal spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said: “The medical fraternity is feeling demoralised after this incident. This is the reason that the principal, vice-principal and medical superintendent of Government Medical College, Amritsar, want to be relieved of their charge. This is a matter of shame for the country. The CM needs to intervene and restore the trust of doctors.”

The others who sought to give up their administrative duties Friday were Dr Rajiv Devgan, the principal-director, Dr K D Singh, the medical superintendent, and Dr Jagtar Singh Kular, the vice-principal, of Guru Nanak Dev Complex-Government Medical College and Hospital, Amritsar.

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In their letters, the officials talked about the high work load in their respective departments, leaving them with little time for administrative duties.

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Dr Devgan wrote: “Patients need many basic facilities in various departments of the hospital. At times, due to the lack of these facilities, patients face difficulties in various departments, due to which many irresponsible social organisations try to put undue pressure on us. They even misguide higher officials at times and hence try to malign our image.”

Dr K D Singh told The Sunday Express they had resigned two days ago. “It is just a coincidence that the news came on Saturday. We will continue to work as specialists.”

However, their letters mention the date July 29.

First published on: 30-07-2022 at 10:21:27 am
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