Strike Over Spurious Drugs On Durbar Move

Protest Against Sham Lal When He Arrives, Say Doctors, Civil Society, Bar

SRINAGAR: The newly-formed Medical Employees’ Joint Action Forum, describing itself as a joint platform of medical associations, civil society and the Bar Association, has called for a Valley-wide strike on the opening of the government durbar on May 6 over the supply of spurious drugs in Kashmir.

“Protests should be held against the former health minister Sham Lal Sharma when he arrives with the durbar, demanding his resignation from the state cabinet,” the Forum said.

At a press conference here, Forum chairman, Dr. Nisar-ul-Hassan, who also heads the Doctors Association of Kashmir, demanded criminal cases to be lodged against Sham Lal and members of the purchasing committee that cleared a massive batch of spurious drugs for supply to Kashmir hospitals.

“We have already rejected the probe ordered by the state government, and demanded an impartial inquiry by a serving judge of the High or the Supreme Court,” he said.

“We will not raise the issue again if people do not heed the strike call, because May 6 is the final chance for the masses to raise their voice against the supply of spurious drugs,” he said.

Representatives of the Resident Doctors’ Association, Bar Association, civil society groups, Non-gazetted Employees’ Welfare Association, Health and Family Welfare Employees’ Confederation, and the J and K Pharmacists’ Association also were present at the press conference.

Supporting the strike call, they said that they would sustain the campaign against spurious drugs “until the state government wakes up to throw Sham Lal Sharma out of the cabinet and takes action against those involved in the scandal.

Speaking to the press, the general secretary of the Bar Association, Muhammad Ashraf Bhat, said that all escape routes for the culprits would be closed.

“We know that they are trying to shift the case to Jammu to save their skin,” he said.

The head of the Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies, Prof Hameeda Nayeem, said that strikes only were not the answer to the issue.

“We should not react emotionally, but adopt a strategy,” she said, adding that the former health minister, Sham Lal Sharma must resign from the cabinet on moral grounds.

According to a KNS report, the KCSDS chairperson asked doctors to prescribe branded medicines instead of generic drugs.

The spokesman of the Forum, Dr. Asif Meraj, described the silence of the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, over the spurious drug scam as “intriguing.”

“The chief minister is always active on social networking sites. But why has he not woken up to the spurious drugs issue,” he said.

“Instead of trying to earn the goodwill of his masters, he should function as the head of the state government,” he said.

Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Sanjay Saraf too has supported the Forum’s strike call for May 6.

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