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Though no stranger to controversies, ex-Baba Farid V-C Dr Raj Bahadur has illustrious career

At Faridkot’s Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, where the orthopaedic surgeon was asked by the Punjab health minister to lie down on a ‘dirty’ bed, questions had been raised several times about the continuous extensions of his vice-chancellor tenure and ‘irregularities’.

Dr Raj Bahadur started his career as a house surgeon in a Himachal Pradesh medical college and later at the Snowden Hospital in Shimla in 1976. (Express photo/File)

Dr Raj Bahadur, who resigned as vice-chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) late on Friday protesting his “humiliation” by the Punjab health minister, took over at the university in 2014 under the SAD-BJP rule for a three-year period, which was extended twice by the Congress government that followed.

At the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot, where the 71-year-old doctor was asked by minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra to lie down on a “dirty” bed on Friday, questions had been raised several times about the continuous extensions of his vice-chancellor tenure.

Dr Bahadur started his career as a house surgeon in a Himachal Pradesh medical college and later at the Snowden Hospital in Shimla in 1976. He did his masters in surgery from Banaras Hindu University and has over 11,000 spinal surgeries to his credit. Bahadur has an experience of more than 45 years as a teacher, researcher and an administrator. Specialising in general orthopaedics surgery, orthopaedic education, spinal surgery and joint replacement, he was director-principal of the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh and the orthopaedics head at the prestigious Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. He also worked in Puducherry and New Delhi (at Safdarjung and Maulana Azad medical colleges) before becoming the vice-chancellor on December 23, 2014.

Dr Bahadur has also been on the Medical Council of India’s monitoring cell for undergraduate and postgraduate admissions.

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Reacting to Dr Bahadur’s resignation, SAD spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said, “There is a three-month wait for patients at his spinal surgery centre in Mohali… One needs to talk to a doctor with some dignity. The minister must resign.”

However, there were protests against Dr Bahadur at the Faridkot medical college hospital after a grievance redressal committee was set up during the Congress rule.

Videograb of Dr Raj Bahadur on the hospital bed.

Gurpreet Singh Chandbaja, of the Bhai Ghaniya Cancer Roko NGO, had said, “We had pointed out the poor arrangements in the hospital a number of times, but in vain.” In April many NGOs met the then health minister, Vijay Singla, with a memorandum for improving the infrastructure at the hospital. An inquiry had also been demanded into the recruitments in the nursing and a few other departments of the medical college.

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Dr Bahadur mentions in his resume that online evaluation, online questionnaires and e-tendering at the university were started during his tenure. An advanced cancer research centre came up in Bathinda during his tenure. So did a nursing college in Jalalabad, as per his resume. He also got MD seats enhanced during his term. However, medical fee hikes drew flak during the Congress rule.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Bahadur said, “It was a humiliation for me…extremely painful the way I was treated. I didn’t deserve this kind of treatment… Yes, I had to lie on that mattress. If my patient is lying there, I should also lie.. but the treatment was very bad.”

Dr Bahadur maintained that hospital management was the medical superintendent’s prerogative and that the latter was also the approving authority for purchasing goods. “To purchase anything in a government set-up, the procedure is very lengthy and we have to follow that. Not all mattresses are in bad condition, but it shouldn’t have been there, I admit,” he said.

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Dr Bahadur has got support from the Indian Medical Association and fellow doctors of the Faridkot hospital. Three more doctors and his personal assistant at the hospital have also resigned, but after citing personal reasons.

Many medical organisations have demanded an apology from the health minister.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has apologised to Dr Bahadur for his minister’s behaviour and asked the doctor to stay on as the vice-chancellor. But Dr Bahadur said he was hurt and it was difficult for him to continue.

First published on: 30-07-2022 at 16:49 IST
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