By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi/Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said there was no ‘truth’ in the allegations that a pregnant Muslim woman was refused medical attention at a government women hospital in Bharatpur because of her “religious identity who was in critical condition. The incident surfaced on Saturday snowballed into a major controversy in the state after it was raised by none other than the CM’s own cabinet colleague and tourism minister Vishvendra Singh. While the woman’s husband said he was pressurised into taking back the allegations by the authorities and police.
Addressing a press conference via Video Conferencing from Jaipur, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot briefed about the steps taken by the state government to tackle the deadly covid-19 pandemic. He expressed confidence that his government would overcome this humanitarian crisis with the help and resolve of people. He also demanded the Central government should release its GST share immediately.
When this correspondent drew his attention towards “islamophobic” incident at a government hospital in Bharatpur district where a Muslim pregnant lady in a critical condition was turned away by the resident lady doctor? The CM Gehlot said he did not find any truth in the media reports.
I asked the Bharatpur district collector to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report, he said and adding that the Collector report did not find any such incident of discrimination on the basis of religion.
The collector’s report stated that the allegations are not true, he said.
It is to be mentioned here that the state tourism minister Vishvendra Singh himself has raised the issue. In his tweet and video message, Singh stated while he was monitoring his own constituency during the COVID-19 lockdown, he came to know about a doctor in Bharatpur who refused to operate a pregnant woman because of her Muslim identity and asked her to go to Jaipur for delivery.
He named the woman as Praveen, 32-year-old, who is a resident of Bela Nagar in Bharatpur district. He said she was referred to Bharatpur’s government-run zanana hospital where a doctor outrightly refused to operate on her because she was Muslim.
Testimony of Irfan Khan (34) of #Bharatpur who lost his child today due to alleged negligence of hospital staff.
“Tum Muslim ho, tumhara yahan koi ilaaj nahi hoga”, a doctor at RBM Zennana hospital told this to the couple, says Khan#Rajasthan @vishvendrabtp @ashokgehlot51
“The doctor there, upon discovering that we are Muslim refused to operate my wife and referred her to Jaipur. She delivered in the ambulance while on our way to Jaipur but the baby died,” said Khan.
Irfan Khan, 34, husband of Parveen said that his wife was in a critical condition when he took her to the district hospital in Bharatpur.
Speaking to “The Wire” Khan said he was pressurised into denying the allegations.
“They [medical staff] threatened my sister-in-law and made a video where she is seen denying the fact that the doctor refused to treat Parveen because she is a Muslim.”
He also added that the policemen pressurised him to give a particular statement to the collector. “I didn’t say a word of what’s written in the report. They just asked me to sign.”
Nathmal Didei, Bharatpur district collector, conducted an inquiry into the matter and submitted a report on the basis of statements from the doctor, Irfan and Parveena’s sister-in-law Fatma. In its report found the allegations untrue.
While in her defense, Dr. Rekha Jharwal, the gynecologist at the Bharatpur zanana hospital, said that when Parveena was brought at around 8:50 am, her condition was critical and that’s why she advised her to go to the Jaipur hospital. “After her relatives agreed, I referred her to Jaipur. I didn’t misbehave with them nor denied treatment because of her Muslim identity,” she wrote in her statement.
However, Singh said his government is secular and sensitive to such issues and would take action against the doctor.
The doctor’s refusal to treat the woman because of her religion – if confirmed – comes against the backdrop of a relentless campaign in a section of the national media to blame the spread of the coronavirus on Muslims in the name tablighi Jamaat.