Protest over ‘assault’ on trainee nurse
KARACHI: As an investigation into the charge of an attempt on the life of a trainee nurse got under way, staff nurses and students of the nursing school and college at the rJinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Wednesday agitated against the reported assault on their colleague by a medico-legal officer.
The protesting nurses and students demanded legal action against the doctor and an operation to cleanse hostels of illegal occupants who were staying there with the support of political parties and administration.
Police said that the statement of the trainee nurse – who was still unconscious after undergoing head surgery – had become crucial to set the course of investigations, since the doctor in his initial statement recorded by investigators had denied the charges.
The FIR says that the girl jumped from the window of an apartment, which was in the possession of the doctor, to save her life when she was allegedly attacked by him. She was found in an unconscious condition in the lawn of a mess in the JPMC residential area an hour before sunset on Tuesday.
The investigation officer said that the doctor, who was spotted with bruises on his body just after the incident, was taken into custody on Tuesday night and shifted to a private hospital for medical treatment on Wednesday evening.
The IO told Dawn that the investigators had searched the room of the doctor in the mess and found no clue about the motive and nature of the crime said to have been committed.
“Dr Jabbar Memon is currently booked under Section 324 (attempted murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and charges related to a sexual offence will be incorporated in the FIR if the result of a chemical examination of samples is positive,” said Sub-Inspector Rao Shamim, the investigation officer at the Saddar police station.
“Unfortunately, the trainee nurse is still unconscious. Her statement is crucial to set the course of investigations,” the investigator said.
A leader of the nursing community told Dawn that all the nurses of the JPMC – a federal government tertiary care hospital which employed over 500 male and female nursing staffers – wanted that the doctor be given an exemplary punishment for the dreadful act against the second-year student of the nursing school.
Due to a protest and demonstration by nurses, which continued for two and a half hours on Wednesday, the routine service delivery to patients in various wards remained suspended.
A couple of doctors at the JPMC claimed that patient care had to be suspended for some time due to the protest and demonstration. However, they condemned the ill-behavior of the doctor in question with the nurse and maintained that such elements were black sheep.
President of the provincial nursing association’s unit at the JPMC Sehar Iqbal said that the nursing staff demanded that the hospital administration undertake a search operation of the Mess-96 and hostel of the BMSI, where they believed that illegal occupants were living, within 24 hours.
“If we do not see any positive response from the administration on Thursday morning, we will stage a sit-in in front of the executive director’s office for an indefinite period and stop performing duties in OPDs and wards,Â” she warned. However, she said that nurses would continue to work in the main causality and gynaecology emergency departments in the interest of patients.
A JPMC staff nurse, Fouzia, said that the entire nursing staff of the JPMC, Civil Hospital Karachi, National Institute of Child Health and other hospitals in the city would go on a strike within the next 24 hours if the government failed to ensure justice in the case of the nursing student.
“Nurses from other parts of the country have started contacting the Sindh chapter of Pakistan nursing federation and have assured them that they stand by the victim,” she said.
Ms Fouzia, who is also a member of the provincial nursing association, said that the Wednesday gathering of the male and female nursing staffers was peaceful and hospital’s emergency, gynaecology and OPDs worked as usual.
She claimed that the victim student, who had started working as a bedside nurse as part of her training, was severely injured after falling from the second floor of the mess.
Damage to nursing profession
Speaking to Dawn, the principal of the College of Nursing, Rehana Afghani, said that the reaction was very natural, but she could not say anything about future repercussions of the incident. “It was shameful that a trainee nurse was victimised,” she said, adding that if such events were not checked and assaulters were not given an exemplary punishment, the entire nursing cadre would not only be discouraged but it would also become difficult to restore the confidence of parents and guardians in the nursing profession.The principal said she had called on the executive director of the JPMC on Wednesday morning and found her upset over the unfortunate incident. “I have been contacted by senior faculty members of other nursing institutions from other parts of the country, who have decided to register their protest and express solidarity with the young student of the JPMC nursing school by wearing black armbands.”
Special secretary of the provincial health department Dr Abdul Majid, who is heading an investigation committee in the assault case, told Dawn that he had collected the facts and evidence from the JPMC and would submit the report to high-ups within the next 24 hours.
JPMC Executive Director Dr Tasneem Ahsan told Dawn that she had been doing all that was necessary since 5.30pm on Tuesday when she came to know about the incident. The trainee nurse was in a semi-conscious at the neurosurgery ward after undergoing an operation. Her condition was still unstable, she said.
Referring to the demand for a search operation in some hostels, she said that the administration was already aware of the problem and had moved the relevant authority for necessary action.
Sources said that some of the hostel rooms were occupied by elements backed by political parties, and the administration found it extremely difficult to vacate the hostel without having political backing along with the support of law-enforcement agencies.