Image of the J&K Health Minister Bali Bhagat inaugurating the lift at GMCH on March 10
Image of the J&K Health Minister Bali Bhagat inaugurating the lift at GMCH on March 10 | Facebook
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‘He said he used his personal freedom. This is no satisfactory answer.’

Jammu: The Government Medical College (GMC) in Jammu has defended its decision to sack a doctor for fact-checking a state minister’s post on Facebook.

On 10 March, when Jammu & Kashmir health minister Bali Bhagat said on Facebook he had inaugurated a new lift at the hospital, Dr Amit Kumar, posted as registrar at the facility’s department of anaesthesia, commented that the elevator wasn’t new but had just been repaired.

His services were terminated on 15 March on the grounds that he had violated a state service rules order that prohibits government employees from criticising the government, marking the first time a staffer has been sacked under the order. The order said he had “used Facebook and commented with the intent of provoking readers”.

Two days earlier, Kumar was served a showcause notice. However, according to the GMC’s principal, Dr Sunanda Raina, he could not give a “satisfactory answer” for his conduct.

“I called him to my chamber after he was served the showcause notice. He said he used his personal freedom. This is no satisfactory answer,” Raina told ThePrint.

“If he had queries and didn’t like anything, he could have come and discussed it with me. To go public is to tarnish your institute,” she said.

“He (Kumar) made remarks on Facebook that tarnished the image of the whole administration. Kumar wrote the minister was befooling people,” Raina added.

“If you make unnecessary remarks, why would they be tolerated? The state government had passed an order in December underlining that this will not be acceptable from government servants,” she said.

Bhagat and Kumar could not be reached for comment despite several attempts.

Former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah drew a parallel with the Kathua rape-murder episode to accuse the Mehbooba Mufti-led state government of being dictatorial, tweeting, “Ministers can protest to defend rape/murder accused but a doctor can’t point out the truth”.

“All the doctor did was point out that the lift the health minister claimed to have inaugurated was actually an old lift & for that he was removed from his post of registrar,” Abdullah added.

The post

Kumar’s post has since been deleted. Sharing three photographs, Bhagat had written: “Dedicated an exclusive tetanus ward and newly installed lift facility to the patients in the Government Medical College, Jammu. Both these facilities have been developed at an estimated cost of 71 lakhs. Also inspected some wards and units in the GMC and took stock of the sanitation and othr facilities available there for the patients (sic).”

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