An orthopaedic surgeon working at a government-run trauma centre in Kathmandu allegedly faced a kangaroo court-like trial in the Home Minister’s office after he refused to issue an exaggerated ‘disability’ certificate to Maoist cadres to enable them to draw allowances from the state coffers. Bhojraj Adhikari on Friday said the incident, which took place three days ago, had left him traumatised and scared, even though he claimed Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa was not present during the interrogation.
The details of the incident started trickling in after Adhikari detailed the ordeal in a letter to the director of the trauma centre, Dr Pramod Upadhyay. Adhikari said six people, some with physical disabilities, came to his office on July 10 and demanded they be issued disability certificates, where the scale of injury sustained should be exaggerated so that they could corner higher allowance from the government.
“They insisted that the doctor must exaggerate the scale of injury sustained so that they could get a higher allowance from the state,” Adhikari wrote in his letter. The surgeon said the people were Maoists, who claimed they sustained the injuries in government encounters during the insurgency period between 1996 and 2006. Adhikari said he refused to issue them the certificates as it was against government guidelines.
Within minutes of his refusal, Adhikari got a call from the Home Minister’s Office (HMO) and was asked to meet the minister urgently. Adhikari said he would be able to attend only after work hours. Soon, a couple of government staff came to the trauma centre and ferried the surgeon to the HMO.
“I was taken to a room in the ministry. A few people interrogated me and warned about the consequences if I did not abide by their instructions. I told them I was only following the guidelines issued by the government. No one harmed me physically, but I came back to office scared, traumatised and nervous after spending over an hour at the Home Ministry,” Adhikari said.
It later turned out that the Home Minister’s political adviser Surya Subedi Pathik had summoned the doctor. On Thursday evening, an association of doctors decided that they would not be issuing any medical certificates if the government did not apologise for the incident.
The incident comes two days after the vice-chancellor of Nepal Sanskrit University faced a similar predicament at the Prime Minister’s office. Kul Prasad Koirala was taken to Prime Minister KP Oli’s official residence by a senior police officer from the Tribhuvan International airport to attend an “urgent meeting”.
The vice-chancellor was kept in a room for nearly an hour but was later conveyed that the PM had sudden engagements and was too busy. Due to this, Koirala missed his flight to Vancouver, where he was to attend the world Sanskrit Conference and was leading a seven-member delegation.
Both the incidents have been raked up in the Parliament by the opposition as examples of threats to basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution. However, the government has maintained a stoic silence over the incidents.