Govt sacks doctor over comment on Health Minister’s Facebook post

Govt sacks doctor over comment on Health Minister’s Facebook post
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Srinagar: Jammu-based doctor, Amit Kumar, has been terminated from the post of Registrar at Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu after authorities invoked SRO-525, the recently issued diktat which bars a government employee from writing on social media against the government, following his comments on Health Minister Bali Bhagat’s Facebook post on March 10.
“He used his personal social media account (Facebook) and commented with the intent of provoking readers,” reads the order issued by Principal GMC Jammu, Dr Sunanda Raina, on March 15.
Dr Kumar told Kashmir Reader that the termination order came as shock to him and his family as he was planning to go for a honeymoon. “I got married just three months ago. I and my family were still in celebratory mood. I was planning to take my wife for a honeymoon, but this bad news has ruined all the plans,” Dr Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
He said that he couldn’t go for the honeymoon earlier because he resumed duties immediately after the wedding day, due to shortage of staff at GMC Jammu.
“We had planned the outing next month,” he said.
On March 10, Minister for Health and Medical Education, Bali Bhagat, posted some pictures on his Facebook account about the inauguration of some facilities at GMC Jammu. “Dedicated an exclusive Tetanus Ward and newly installed lift facility to the patients in the Government Medical College, Jammu. Both these facilities have been developed at an estimated cost of 71 lakhs. Also inspected some wards and units in the GMC and took stock of the sanitation and other facilities available there for the patients,” read the post. It featured four photos of the minister with some health officials and doctors.
Dr Kumar said that he wrote a “sincere comment” on the minister’s post, to inform him that the facilities he inaugurated were not functioning.
“General Public being fooled openly and proudly… For general masses, I want to inform u that this lift is already installed and was malfunctioning. They just did repair work spending few thousand rupees only… and what added more to the mockery is that lift is not working today, i.e just 1 day after opening. Tetanus ward is opened by shifting already purchased bed and mattress from store…#StopFoolingPeople #JantaMaafNahiKaregi,” read Dr Kumar’s comment, which has now been removed. Kashmir Reader has a screenshot of it.
Soon after his comment, Dr Kumar received a call from GMC Jammu, informing him of his termination.
“Next day, the order was issued by the Principal, Dr Sunanda Raina, saying that I had violated SRO 525,” Dr Kuamr said.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that the order was issued following directions by the Health Minister, who felt that the comments by the doctor had embarrassed him.
“Basically, the comment triggered widespread criticism and embarrassed the minister. The PRO (public relations officer) of the minister was also part of the angry reaction. He even threatened Dr Kumar for his criticism,” the sources said.
As per the SRO 525 issued in December last year, “no government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the government.”
“They shall also not use their personal social media accounts for any political activity or endorse the posts or tweets or blogs of any political figure and shall not use their accounts in a way that could reasonably be construed to imply that the government endorses or sanctions their personal activities in any matter whatsoever. They shall also not post inflammatory, extraneous message in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,” reads the SRO (service rules order).
The termination order also quoted a declaration made by Dr Kumar at the time of joining GMC Jammu as Registrar Anesthesia. “Whereas Dr Amit Kumar furnished an affidavit at the time of joining as Registrar (Anaesthesia), whereupon he has solemnly affirmed and declared that in case of any misconduct or negligence on his part, his engagement shall be terminated,” the order said.
The order claims to have issued a show-cause notice to Dr Kumar on March 12, giving him two days to explain his position, only after which he was terminated.
Principal GMC Jammu, Dr Sunanda Raina, did not answer calls from Kashmir Reader.