Govt draws flak on removal of SKIMS Director
Jammu: The removal of Professor AG Ahangar from the post of Director SKIMS Soura became the cause célèbre on the sixth day of the budget session in the legislative assembly, with Opposition members staging a walkout from the state assembly over the government’s mishandling of the situation at SKIMS.
During the question hour, opposition National Conference (NC) legislator from Homshalibugh, Abdul Majeed Larmi, stood up from his seat and asked Speaker Kavinder Gupta as to why no one from the government responded to the concern shown by the House at the removal of Prof Ahangar.
“What is his fault?” Larmi asked the Speaker. “No one has talked about the SKIMS issue. Why has the director been attached?”
Prof Ahangar was removed as SKIMS Director and attached with the general administration department (GAD) after a sting operation by a TV channel showed three senior doctors of SKIMS Soura doing private practice. The three doctors shown in the hidden-camera sting have been suspended.
Opposition members asked the Speaker to direct the government to respond to the issue of Prof Ahangar’s removal. “There is strike in SKIMS Soura and people are dying there,” said NC’s Mian Altaf. “Patients coming from a hundred kilometres afar are not being admitted, nor is the surgery department working,” he said
Altaf, who is the MLA from Kangan, asked the government what was the fault of Prof Ahangar. “Manmaani say kaam nahi chalayga. SKIMS sab ki property hai,” Altaf said to the health minister, Bali Bhagat.
The health minister said in a brief statement, “Emergency and OPD wards are working (at SKIMS) while nurses are on duty. The matter is sub-judice and we can say nothing more.”
Unsatisfied, the Opposition members walked into the well of the House and later staged a walkout, which was announced by NC’s Altaf. “We are walking out in protest,” he shouted towards the treasury benches.
This was the second walkout at 10:52am in less than an hour since the House met at 10am.
Earlier, NC and Congress members had walked out over the government’s failure to make functional new administrative units.
Carrying banners that read, “Activate Jandrah tehsil, Nagrota sub-division”, “Activate Bisnah tehsil, activate Qaimoh sub-division”, the NC and Congress MLAs alleged that at least 50 new administrative units were still defunct since their creation in 2014.
“People are suffering… We have asked questions but we are told that the process in on for staff creation and the tehsils have been merged with each other,” NC’s Devender Singh Rana said as he led Opposition members into the well.
He was accompanied by MLA Bisnah Kamal Arora and others from Congress and NC. “Jammu ka beda gark kar rakha hai, Kashmir ka beda gark kar rakha hai,” Rana said to the Speaker.
As the Speaker remained unmoved, Parliamentary Affairs Minister AR Veeri told the House that the issue would be discussed once the motion on departmental grants is taken up. The Opposition members remained adamant and demanded that the Speaker issue directions to the government to respond on the issue.
Rana taunted the Speaker: “Before coming to the House, you should seek permission from Veeri sahab (about the issues to be taken up).”
“What is bad in raising this issue? Actually you don’t want to talk about these issues; (rather) you want to shield the government, as has been happening for the last 3 years,” Rana told Gupta.
“We have been hearing it for the last three years that the planning and finance department is making plans for creation of staff,” he said.
While leading the walkout from the House, Rana told the parliamentary affairs minister, “Give us a hall outside this house… we won’t be coming here (to bother you). And then you talk among yourselves… Sajad Sahab, (Basharat) Bukhari sahab…”
The NC and Congress members staged the walkout at 10:08am and then returned in five minutes.
During and after the question hour, health minister Bhagat came under scathing attack by both the government and Opposition MLAs.
PDP MLA from Karnah, Raja Manzoor, left the House in utmost anger after lambasting the health department. He said people in his constituency were dying every day. “They are dying on many accounts… for want of health and for want of roads,” he said. “But you are unmoved,” Manzoor said to the health minister.
“A diploma holder has been posted in the health department in Karnah for the past 20 years,” he informed. He also said that nothing had happened about the child and maternity hospital announced by the chief minister for Karnah.
The health minister replied, “If the CM has announced it, it is final decision and we will identify the land.”
At this, Manzoor, who was on his toes from morning, responded: “I am not satisfied and I am walking out.” He briskly left the house.
Earlier, several BJP MLAs sought assurances from the minister over various health sector issues. PDP MLA Yawar Mir said that the Trauma Hospital at Pattan was non-functional for long, “despite commitment from former CM late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed”.
Congress’s Bandipora MLA said that the health centre in Ajas was not functioning properly. MLA Ganderbal, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, said that no essential service was available at a hospital in his constituency.