Govt gag order bars doctors, staff from speaking to media

SRINAGAR: Health authorities issued on Friday a circular barring all doctors and other staff in Valley hospitals from speaking to the media.
The circular comes days after the in charge medical superintendent of GB Pant Hospital, Dr Shafqat Khan, harassed a woman reporter when she was covering an assignment, prompting Kashmir Journalists Corps to condemn his action with a warning that if the authorities do not act against him, it will move the State Woman’s Commission.
Khan, who has been appointed to the post even though he does not meet the eligibility criteria, had issued a similar circular asking the doctors and staff of the hospital to desist from talking to the media.
The Friday’s order, it was learnt, has been issued at the behest of the health minister, who is learnt to have ordered Khan’s appointment overriding seniority of many other doctors.
The circular reads: “It has been seen that doctors and paramedical staff are seen interacting with the media, which creates chaos and confusion in the hospital. To avoid any inconvenience it is impressed upon all the staff to refrain from such practice in future, failing which action under rules shall be initiated against the defaulters.”
Principal Government Medical College Rafique Pampori told Kashmir Reader, “I was in Delhi and have no knowledge of the circular. This is a government order and we keep on issuing these.”
In the past, several stories about corruption in the health department and hospitals have been reported in the media and in most of these cases the sources have been doctors and other administrative staff. The gag order is apparently aimed at silencing those voices.