Minister manhandled at SKIMS, DM chief gets VIP treatment
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jul 29: Lately appointed Director of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Dr Shaukat Ali Zargar, has allegedly manhandled Minister of Animal Husbandry, Science & Technology and Information Technology, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, alongwith his security guards and, at the same time, allotted a VIP Room to the outlawed Dukhtaraan-e-Millat Chairperson, Asiya Andrabi, at Jammu and Kashmir’s only tertiary care hospital. Attack on a Cabinet Minister by a public servant has put entire Council of Ministers in an awkward position even as a number of Ministerial colleagues are now asking Aga Ruhullah to get his dignity “restored” by Chief Minister and Speaker of Legislative Assembly.
Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that a number of Ministers and legislators have taken the July 26th “attack” on Aga Ruhullah seriously and they are likely to agitate the matter before Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Aga has been counseled to assert and get his dignity “restored” as acceptance of the attack mutely could encourage similar attacks by public servants on Ministers and legislators in
. Taking action in this matter is the prerogative of Chief Minister who also happens to be the Chairman of Governing Body of SKIMS. Omar had picked up eminent gastroenterologist, Dr Shaukat Zargar, as the new Director of SKIMS three months back. Jammu and Kashmir
Chief Minister has been indisposed since Wednesday last and all appointments with him have been frozen. Sources said that the Ministers were also waiting for Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, who has returned to
New Delhi today from a 14-day tour of Saudi Arabia and . Mr Lone is scheduled to reach back his office tomorrow. Aga, as a cabinet Minister and MLA, is entitled to move a privilege motion against Director SKIMS in case Government does not initiate disciplinary action and remedial measures to safeguard honour, dignity and privilege of the complainant Minister. England
The first ever physical attack, if established, by a public servant---incidents like a Police official’s throwing his shoes on Chief Minister on the Independence Day last year excluded---happened at 8.30 pm on July 26th when Aga Ruhullah was attending on his ailing mother inside VIP Room at SKIMS. Eyewitnesses said that Dr Zargar and his PSO argued with the Minister and physically pushed him towards the exit when he did not clear the way for the Director’s passage.
Sources revealed that Dr Zargar was going to examine Chairperson of the outlawed Dukhtaraan-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi, in another VIP Room adjacent to the VIP Room occupied by Aga’s mother. A PSA detainee, Asiya Andrabi, has been under treatment at the VIP Room for the last over 10 days. With complaint of backache, besides heart and chest pain, Asiya is being specially attended by a team of doctors from the departments of General Medicine and Physical Medicine. Aga’s mother, who had a neurology-related problem, has been discharged on July 27th.
“I was an attendant with my mother for two days. I had two PSOs with me but I did not allow them to enter the main entrance of the VIP Rooms. It was around 8.30 pm on July 26th that Director came in to visit a patient. His PSO ordered loudly to clear the way. Before, I could move, Director began shouting on me as to why I had not moved away. Even as it was he who had allotted one of the two VIP Rooms to my mother, I humbly introduced myself to him as Aga Ruhullah. He asked me to get away and mind my work. As I told him that I was not an employee but a Minister attending on my mother, his PSO began shouting and physically removing me. On hearing the heated exchange, a number of attendants gathered and my PSOs rushed in. They rescued me but Director’s PSO scuffled with them. In the course of scuffle, he sustained a minor injury”, Aga Ruhullah revealed to Early Times.
However, some of the eyewitnesses insisted that Director and his armed PSO pushed the Minister repeatedly towards the exit till his PSO came to his rescue. They even threatened to open fire but stopped short of the extreme action. Within minutes, SHO Soura reached the spot but the matter was resolved. Aga’s mother was discharged from the hospital next day.
SP Hazratbal, Abdul Waheed Shah, confirmed that a physical dual took place between the PSOs of Director and Minister in which Director’s PSO got injured. “SHO Soura rushed to the spot immediately after he received reports of a scuffle at the VIP Rooms of SKIMS. We did not register FIR as the parties did not insist on submitting a written complaint”, SP Hazratbal said. Other informed sources in Police, however, said that the SHO decided to remain neutral and inactive as he was under pressure from both sides to file criminal complaints on their allegations and counter-allegations.
Director SKIMS, Dr Shaukat Zargar, denied that he scuffled or physically pushed the Minister. “It was a minor incident. I was a little away, attending another patient, and heard my PSO arguing with the Minister and his PSOs. Things were resolved amicably. I did not know the Minister by face. I had only heard his name. I did not recognize him”, Dr Zargar asserted. He added: “Sometimes VIP attendants get angry. The other day only, I stopped coming in of home meals for Asiya Ji. I objected when I found six attendants in her room. Now, they too are angry with me”.
State’s youngest ever Cabinet Minister, Aga Ruhullah had joined National Conference in 2002, two years after his father Aga Syed Mehdi, a Congress leader, was killed in a powerful landmine blast, along with his driver and seven Police guards, on Srinagar-Gulmarg Road. He served as NC’s MLA of Budgam from 2002 t0 2008. In December 2009 he was returned for second term and was inducted as a Minister of his Cabinet by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in July 2009.