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Friday, May 29, 2020

The curious case of a Moga govt doctor missing from Covid duty

Dr Maninder Bawa, posted as medical officer (ophthalmology) at Kot Ise Khan, had in a written submission on March 31 conveyed to her seniors that she was ‘stranded’ in Coimbatore - where she had gone to attend a training programme - due to the lockdown, and hence cannot join duty.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Published: April 24, 2020 1:32:12 am
coronavirus, coronavirus in punjab, coronavirus recovered patients in punjab, coronavirus counselling, Zoom app punjab health and family welfare dept., Moga Civil Surgeon Dr Andesh Kang said the couple won’t be allowed to join duty without an inquiry.

A DOCTOR posted at Moga Civil Hospital who has been missing from COVID-19 duty claiming she is “stranded” in Coimbatore, despite being issued an inter-state pass to come back, will be facing an inquiry once she returns.

Dr Maninder Bawa, posted as medical officer (ophthalmology) at Kot Ise Khan, had in a written submission on March 31 conveyed to her seniors that she was ‘stranded’ in Coimbatore – where she had gone to attend a training programme – due to the lockdown, and hence cannot join duty.

Her submission (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) to senior medical officer (SMO) Kot Ise Khan on March 31 via WhatsApp, Dr Bawa wrote: “… I had come here to attend a training programme from February 1 to March 31 at Aravind Eye Hospital, Coimbatore. Due to lockdown my flight scheduled for April 1 has been cancelled indefinitely…”

Her husband Dr Gagandeep Singh, is also posted at Moga Civil Hospital.

On Thursday, Moga Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans told The Indian Express that Dr Gagandeep had been given an “inter-state curfew movement pass” which was valid from April 13 to 23 to go and get his wife back, but “they refused to avail it”. “No one from her family went to pick her up from Coimbatore,” said Hans.

The twist

When The Indian Express contacted Dr Bawa at 5 pm on Thursday, she said no one from her family can come to pick her up as it is not possible to “travel 3,000 km by road” from Punjab to Tamil Nadu. Hence, she will come back on May 5 via an Indigo flight booked by her husband.

“My flights earlier scheduled for April 14 and 16 were cancelled. It wasn’t possible for my family to travel 3,000 km, hence we did not avail the pass issued by DC office. I am still in Coimbatore and now I will return on May 5. My husband cannot come pick me up.”

However, three hours later, at 8 pm pm, her husband Dr Gagandeep called this correspondent and said he has already reached Coimbatore to pick up his wife. “We will reach Punjab latest by Saturday morning,” he added.

Asked how he had travelled via road from Moga to Coimbatore in three hours, he said, “I had left for Coimbatore from Moga two days back. We got to know that the Indigo flight for May 5 is also being cancelled so I decided to travel and get my wife back. She won’t be able to join duty immediately as we will quarantine her first.”

Couple will face inquiry, says civil surgeon

Moga Civil Surgeon Dr Andesh Kang said the couple won’t be allowed to join duty without an inquiry.

“It all appears to be a big lie. I suspect the involvement of other senior officials too. Dr Rajesh Attri, senior medical officer, Moga Civil Hospital, has been asked to get a written undertaking from Dr Gagandeep saying that his wife was in Coimbatore ever since and he went to pick her up. If she is willfully not joining duty during this crisis, it is gross negligence and unacceptable. Action will be taken if it is proved that she was back home but still evaded duty.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Moga Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans said, “After she gave a written submission, we issued an inter-state curfew movement pass to her husband to get her back home so she can join work. The pass was issued for ten days from April 13 to 23 so she can come back via road. However, they did not avail the pass facility and no one went to get her back. She hasn’t joined yet. We arranged the pass, but if the family did not avail it, how can we do anything?” Dr Rakesh Bali, SMO, Kot Ise Khan, said, “She sent us this application on March 31 saying she is stranded in Coimbatore. I forwarded the same to civil surgeon…”

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