CM Punjab suspends doctors, SHOs over dead bodies scandal in Nishter Hospital

LAHORE: Three doctors, three employees of Multan’s Nishtar Hospital and two Station House Officers (SHOs) of Punjab Police were suspended on Monday over their alleged negligence in the matter pertaining to the discovery of several putrefied bodies on the health facility’s rooftop.

The action was taken on the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi after an initial inquiry report was submitted to him and he was briefed on the matter during a meeting earlier in the day, a statement issued by the CM office said.

The action comes three days after Adviser to the CM Chaudhry Zaman Gujjar constituted a six-member committee to probe the matter following the surfacing of videos of bodies, supposedly abandoned on the rooftop of Nishtar Hospital’s mortuary. The videos were widely shared on social media. Later, the Punjab government also ordered an inquiry into the incident, and the CM sought a report from the health secretary.

An initial inquiry report was submitted to the CM during a meeting he presided over today, in light of which, the province’s chief executive took “strict action”, the statement by the CM office said.

He ordered the suspension of Dr Maryam Ashraf, head of the anatomy department at Nishtar Medical University, as well as that of doctors Abdul Wahab and Seerat Abbas from the hospital. The CM further directed that three other employees of Nishtar Hospital, namely Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad Sajjad Nasir and Abdur Rauf should also be suspended.

He also ordered the suspension of Shah Rukn-e-Alam Colony SHO Umar Farooq and Seetal Mari SHO Saeed, the statement said, adding that the CM directed that action under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act, 2006 be taken against those responsible for the “negligence”.

“Under no circumstances such treatment of bodies is acceptable,” the statement quoted him as saying. He condemned the incident and noted that in Islam, directives had been laid out for disposing of bodies.

“Dumping the bodies on the rooftop was an inhuman act. Dishonouring the bodies is intolerable,” the CM added.

Earlier in the meeting, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid briefed the CM on the inquiry report submitted to him on Monday.

Former federal minister Moonis Elahi, Punjab Inspector General of Police Faisal Shahkar, Home Department Additional Chief Secretary Captain (retd) Asadullah and others also attended the meeting.

The matter had surfaced last week on Thursday after videos of bodies dumped at Nishtar Hospital’s rooftop were widely shared on social media and Adviser to the CM Chaudhry Zaman Gujjar had visited the hospital and found several putrefied bodies on the rooftop of its mortuary.

After the visit, he had ordered the cremation of the bodies and directed the health authorities to take action against the employees involved in the matter.

Additional Chief Secretary retired Capt Saqib Zafar had also directed Specialised Healthcare Secretary Muzamil Bashir to look into the incident. He had also constituted a six-member team to investigate the matter.

Bashir was made the convener of the committee, while its members included Dr Masood Rauf Haraj of Nishtar Medical University, Assistant Professor Anatomy Dr Shafiqullah Chaudhry, Senior Medical Officer Dr Muhammad Arfan Arshad and one representative each from the deputy commissioner and the city police officer of Multan. The committee submitted its report after three days.

Following a massive media uproar, the Punjab government had also sprung into action on Friday and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Meanwhile, CM Elahi had also taken notice of the matter and sought a report from the health secretary.

Separately, Nishtar Medical University’s vice chancellor had also constituted a three-member committee to investigate the matter. The committee members included Basic Sciences Dean Dr Abbas, associate professor Dr Ghulam Mustafa and campus in-charge Dr Tariq Saeed.

For his part, CM’s aide Tariq Zaman Gujjar had said he was told the bodies were used by medical students.

On the other hand, anatomy department head at Nishar Medical University Dr Maryam, while admitting that unclaimed bodies were used for teaching medical students strictly under the rules and regulations of the home and health departments, had denied reports of over 500 bodies being dumped at the facility’s rooftop.

Meanwhile, a former principal of Nishtar Medi­cal College, Laiq Hussain Siddiqui, had said it was usual for unclaimed and unidentified bodies to be used for medical purposes by the university, but they were preserved after embalming and stressed the putrefied bodies were not thrown out in the open but kept in an airy room that was established during his tenure.

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