Background events which lead to my second arrest


Reminiscences from life in Prison-III
Background events which lead 
to my second arrest
Prof. Eice Muhammad FCPS*
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In part-2, I had narrated what happened after arrest in 1981. I have already mentioned that, I was tried by Summary Military Court (SMC) at midnight in Lahore and sent to Kot-Lakhpat Jail. After about one hour later Dr. Khalid Abdullah was also brought to the Jail. One day after about 08 more doctors were also brought to the Jail. All were given C-class. What events took place, I have already narrated. However one more incident occurred one day. An arrested MPA came in our cells and asked us how the life is going on. After some minutes he began to admonish us and told that it will be better that you apologize to the government otherwise you people will be taught a lesson. Myself and other doctors burst into rage and asked him to leave our area and told him that you should be ashamed of yourself and of your behaviour.

Actually this MPA and the man who had called us for lunch were doing on instructions of jail authorities to know about our plan and to demoralize us.

Prof. Eice Mohammad

Background events which lead to this second arrest which took place in Lahore in 1981.

  1. After my release from prison, after first arrest I visited various hospitals in Lahore and other cities to thank the doctors for showing exemplary courage during the strike after my arrest.
  2. The Federal Government had promised to take positive steps to fulfill the demands of doctors. But government showed no interest in this direction.
  3. Therefore, PDO started having corner meetings in all cities. I visited Karachi, Hyder Abad, Quetta and Peshawar to make the doctors realize the need to have better working conditions for them and need for service structure. Other PDO members also went to many cities to meet doctors. Historic meetings used to take place in canteen of Mayo Hospital Lahore and in Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
  4. The pressure was built on the government to start negotiations.
  5. Professorial staff of medical colleges were also requested to support the struggle of doctors. Local branches of PMA were also requested to cooperate.
  6. Token strikes were held to persuade the government to start the negotiations.
  7. During one such token strike in Lahore, I was informed that elective surgery is being done in West operation theatre of Mayo Hospital Lahore. After wearing operation theatre shoes, mask & gown two of us went to the theatre and requested for the surgeon to complete the operation but not to do elective surgery. I requested the surgeon not to do elective surgery but emergency surgery should be done at any cost. After this we came out. I did not ask anybody to stop the operation.
  8. Meanwhile Federal Government called PDO for negotiations in Islam Abad. Dr. Mahboob-ul- Haq the Minister of Finance headed this meeting. In this meeting, PMA office bearers and Principal of Rawalpindi Medical College and KEMC were also invited to attend the meeting. Director General Health Pakistan and Chief (Health) Planning Commission of Pakistan also attended the meeting.

In the meeting, government agreed to give,

  1. 100% paid house job to the medical and dental graduates.
  2. Create about 2000 new posts for doctors.
  3. 3. To frame service structure for doctors to promotion to Grade 20 and higher.

It will be good to inform the doctors that doctors went on country wide strike in 1974 also for,

  1. 1. Grade 17 to medical and dental graduates on induction in government service.
  2. 2. Increase in salary of House Job doctors
  3. 3. Formulation of Service Structure for doctors.

I was President of PDO Punjab at that time and Dr. Khalid Nawaz was General Secretary of PDO Punjab. It was the time of Prime-Minister Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

As a result of that strike, the following demands were met.

  1. Doctors were to be inducted in service in scale 17 and were to receive 05 advance increments.
  2. The junior House Officers were also to get pay while earlier it was unpaid. There was increase in their salaries also.
  3. At any time 40% of scale—17 doctors will be in scale—18.
  4. Later on an agreed formula will be worked out for promotion of general cadre doctors to scale—20 in a time frame of service years and general cadre doctors could go to BS—20. For this purpose Prof. Yasmin Rashid, present Minister of Health Punjab played an important role in 1983—1986 and onward. She also actively took part to sustain the strike of doctors after my arrest in 1981. Her role for rights of doctors has been praiseworthy.

After sometime in 1975—1976, with the efforts of late Professor Iftikhar Ahmad (who was Patron of PDO) the teaching cadre got a service structure. A new cadre of teachers was created i.e. Associate Professors.

The scales of medical teachers were also upgraded. The following betterment was done in pay scales.

  1. Professors, Basic Scale—20. Earlier they were in BS—19.
  2. Associate Professors: Basic Scale—19 (This was new cadre in BS –19).
  3. Assistant Professors: Basic Scale—18.

With later efforts by doctors, Professors can now go to BS—21 and BS—22, and general cadre doctors can go to BS—20. Prof. Iftikhar Ahmed later on became Principal of KEMC and in fact it was he who managed to get Grade 21 and 22 for some senior medical teachers announced by President General Ziaul Haque at the KEMC Convocation where he was the Chief Guest... Later Prof. Iftikhar also served as Secretary Health Punjab.

After the first meeting with the Federal Government, it was decided to meet again after one week for further discussion.

  1. When meeting started, the document presented by the government showed that 55% house officers will be given paid house job as against 100%.
  2. There was no mention of service structure.
  3. When I reminded that it was agreed that house officers will be given 100% paid house job, One Principal remarked: Dr. Eice, do you want an army of house officers in the ward. I asked him that how many house officers are working in your ward. He told about 35 are working. I told him that is this number is not an army; I remarked that you only oppose PDO proposal lest these poor young doctors do not get paid house job.
  4. I also raised question of elimination of quackery as they are a danger to the public. On this he again opposed this proposal. However, the meeting ended without clear cut decisions and I was asked to put up a written document outlining the demands & their solution & PDO prepared a 20 page document & it was delivered to (Chief Health) Planning Commission of Pakistan, Dr. Siraj-ul-Haq by a special messenger.

However, government did not announce any decision and PDO planned for fresh initiatives like:

  1. Holding Press Conferences.
  2. Meet the then Secretaries of Health of different provinces and different MPAS and MNAS.
  3. And preparing the doctors all over Pakistan for a fresh initiative for acceptance of their demands.

One day, news appeared in the newspapers that Government is preparing to proceed against Dr. Eice Muhammad under Martial Law regulations. Suddenly, Police vehicles began to patrol the house of my father in law on WARIS Road, Lahore where I was residing. Whenever, I came on the road, police vehicle began to move with me. On these indications, I understood that government is going to arrest me any time. One day, police followed me on the road near Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. I hurried and went inside & sat in the side room of an operation theatre. I could listen the sound of boots outside and asking each other about me. An OT assistant came into the side room and he asked me that who are you and why I was sitting here. I told him that I am a doctor & want to meet the operating surgeon who is my friend. So he allowed me to sit there. After about half an hour when I thought that chasing police men probably have gone, I came out and left the hospital through its hind gate. Fortunately there was no one there.

One day earlier, I and Dr. Khalid Abdullah were chased by police in Mayo Hospital & we escaped through chained gate of Mayo Hospital on Nesbit Road and police could not arrest us. Now, it became very clear that Government has decided to arrest me on one pretext or the other. I did not go that night to WARIS Road residence but instead a doctor took me to his house to spend the night. I planned with him to go to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the morning. As per schedule, I and that doctor reached the gate of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Police men were present at the gate and on a tip by someone that I am Dr. Eice Muhammad, police arrested me at the gate and took me to Police Station of old Anarkali. Obviously, this was due to betrayal by that doctor where I had spent the night. Soon after, Dr. Khalid Abdullah was also brought to this police station. We did not know under what charges we have been arrested.

Trial in Summary
Military Court (SMC)

At about 11.00 PM that night we both were taken in Police vehicle to the SMC on Aiwan Tijarat Road. The Presiding Officer (PO) of SMC read out charge sheet to me and also gave a copy of that to me to read it. “It was written that on 5th of the month (It was probably March or April) that I trespassed into West OT in Mayo Hospital and tried to stop the surgeon while in operation and thereby interfering in the official duty.” Same allegation was on Dr. Khalid Abdullah.

I began to remember the date of the alleged incident. I noticed and told the presiding officer of SMC that wrong date has been written in the charge sheet and that alleged incident occurred on 4th. On this, the PO was surprised. He also remarked; Dr. Eice, I am told that you do not lie. I said yes, I speak the truth. On this PO adjourned the proceeding and went to a side room. When he returned he told me; Dr. Eice, you are right and I am changing the date from 5th to 4th. Before everyone he slashed the date from 5th to 4th.

A. This alteration later helped me winning the legal battle for re-instatement.
B. Secondly, I told PO that the patient has gone home about 1.5 month back, hale and hearty then why am I being tried.
C. One of the witnesses against me was son-in-law of then Additional Inspector General (Special Branch) Punjab. This fact also helped me later.
D. The Medical Superintendent of Mayo Hospital, Lahore did not give statement against me and told the court that he was not informed of this incident by the concerned Professor.
E. Afterwards, I came to know that for providing an excuse to arrest me, the government of Punjab asked the concerned administration to pass a resolution for taking action against Dr. Eice for trespassing the OT. So, some doctors of KEMC provided that document on which I was arrested and then sentenced.
Dr. Khalid Abdullah was also sentenced on the same allegation. We both were awarded one year rigorous imprisonment at midnight. I was caught by the neck by SHO of old Anarkali Police Station & forcefully pushed into the police van and taken to Kot-Lakhpat Jail soon to be joined by Dr. Khalid Abdullah.

Note: I would also like to mention the name of our other colleagues from all over Paksitan who played a heroic role during this historic doctor’s struggle for improvement of the working conditions of the doctors. They included Dr. Anwar Ahmed Bugvi, Dr. Khalid H. Rao, Dr. Shamimul Haque, Dr. Manzoor Ahmad, and Dr. Gulzar Ahmad all from Punjab. Dr. Taj Ali Khattak, Dr. Farid Ahmad from Khyber PK, Dr. Kaleem Butt, Dr.Sajjad Ahmad, Dr. Hamid Zaki, Dr. Khalid Rajput from Sindh,. Dr. Siddiquie from Hyderabad, and Dr. Qadar Bakhsh from Quetta. The doctors community should be grateful to all of them.

(To be continued)

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