Two doctors at the JN Medical College in Aligarh Muslim University connected to the case involving the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gangraped in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, have been removed from their posts, the Hindustan Times reported. One of the doctors had contradicted the police’s claim that the woman was not raped, while the other had signed a few reports about her.

Four upper-caste Thakur men had raped and tortured the woman on September 14. She died of her injuries in a Delhi hospital on September 29. The case was in the limelight

Their removal came a day after a Central Bureau of Investigation team visited the hospital and questioned the staff and doctors. The two doctors have been identified as Dr Mohammad Azimuddin Malik and Dr Obaid Imtiazyul Haque.

The university authorities claimed that the doctors had been hired on a temporary basis as many doctors had fallen ill, and so their sacking was a matter of routine. However, one of the doctors said he might have been sacked because he had contradicted the police’s claim that the complainant was not raped.

Malik had said that medical tests were conducted too late to conclude that the woman had not been raped. He questioned the gap between the date of the crime, September 14, and the date the tests were conducted, September 22. The forensic science laboratory had received the samples on September 25.

The Uttar Pradesh administration has consistently denied that the woman was raped, based on a report from the forensic lab that said there were no traces of sperm in samples taken from her.

“For concrete finding of rape, one needs to go for a test within four days of the incident and the test conducted after 11 days served no purpose,” Dr Malik said. “This was all I had said and did not mention it in regard to the Hathras victim’s case.”

Dr Haque said he was shocked that he was sacked. “I joined when many of doctors at JNMC were ill and worked for two-and-a-half months amidst Covid-19, but came to know [on Tuesday] that my services are not required,” he said. “I had not interacted with the media about the Hathras victim, which was sub judice, but had signed some medical papers related to the victim.”

Malik had been hired in August as a temporary chief medical officer when six out of 11 CMOs at the hospital were diagnosed with the coronavirus, The Wire reported. His term was to end in November, but he received a notice on October 16 saying that his extension from October 10 to November 8 as temporary CMO, could not be approved.

Malik told The Wire that the vice chancellor of the university scolded Chief Medical Superintendent Shahid Siddiqui the day after Malik’s statement came out in the press. “The VC had called the principal, and scolded him,” Malik said. “We had got an indication that day that we will have to face the wrath in some form. There was nothing wrong in giving statements to the press. Ask any doctor, they will say the same thing as me. But it is happening probably because it made headlines.”

However, AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai maintained that the termination of the doctors’ services was not unusual. Kidwai said: “Dr Azeem has been working on leave vacancy whose term expired on October 8, hence question of termination of his service does not arise. Casual Medical officer is group one service and temporary appointment can not be made since there were many Covid-19 patients. Now with improved situation the ad hoc appointment of two more doctors, Dr Obaid and Dr Faheem, were not approved.”

The Hathras case

The Hathras case complainant had died of her injuries on September 29. In the events that followed, the Uttar Pradesh government forcibly cremated the body of the woman even as her family was detained in their home by the police, with the aim to stop the incident from becoming a focus of protests.

Sandeep Thakur, the main accused, has written to the state police chief from jail claiming that the men are being framed. He had also claimed that the woman was a victim of honour killing as her family was opposed to their “friendship”. The Central Bureau of Investigation on October 10 took over the inquiry into the case.