Threat against Medical Education Commission vice chair condemnedCitizens’ groups say Oli, ministers are pressuring Dr Giri to grant affiliation to B&C Medical College.
The Brihat Nagarik Andolan, a citizens’ movement, and Solidarity for Dr KC Alliance, a group which has been fighting against the commercialisation of medical education, have drawn the attention of the authorities concerned to ensure the safety of Medical Education Commission Vice Chairman Dr Shrikrishna Giri.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the two groups alleged that Giri’s physical and mental well-being was being threatened by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha and Health Minister Sher Bahadur Tamang.
The statement said that the movements’ attention had been drawn towards the unfolding of events following the Medical Education Commission’s meeting on June 11 that had discussed granting university affiliation to the Jhapa-based B&C Medical College. The meeting had ended inconclusively after the expert members had suggested that the college should follow the due process first.
The statement pointed out that during a meeting between Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is also the chairman of the commission, and Giri on Sunday the prime minister was exerting pressure on the latter to sign the decision to grant affiliation to the B&C.
The vice-chair of the commission is its executive head.
“There is a challenge for the physical and mental well-being of Dr Giri after Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha and Health Minister Sher Bahadur Tamang, while asking him to resign, are also pressuring Giri to sign the decision,” read the statement.
The Medical Education Commission, the government entity assigned to regulate the medical education sector, on June 11 had agreed in principle to grant affiliation to the controversial medical college after it fulfilled the necessary legal procedure.
The college, which received the letter of intent from the Ministry of Education in 2014, has long been lobbying for an affiliation to run the MBBS programme. But it hasn’t renewed the letter for the last few years, a prerequisite for affiliation.
Its attempts had failed following a strong reservation from Dr Govinda KC, an orthopaedic surgeon who has been demanding reforms in the country’s medical education sector.
However, Oli and Minister Shrestha are openly in favour of granting the affiliation to B&C Medical College.
At Friday's meeting, Oli said it was pointless to deny B&C College affiliation as it has met every requirement.
Stating that it is objectionable to use the residence of the democratic nation’s prime minister as a place of hooliganism, the statement said, “It is condemnable that an executive of an independent body is being subjected to such excesses by the prime minister and ministers misusing the state mechanism.”
The movements have also appealed to all, including political parties, workers and the public, to raise their voices for the safety of Giri.
One of the doctors who had met Giri in the afternoon, however, said Giri did not talk about the threat though he had said he was under pressure.
“Later Giri said Prime Minister Oli agreed to move ahead only after a report of the experts’ committee formed by the commission,” said Bimal Aryal, of the Brihat Nagarik Andolan. “Our call and voices could have worked for now. But we are vigilant that the government's interference will continue later as well.”
However, several attempts of the Post to contact Ministers Shrestha and Tamang failed.
According to Dilli Luitel, member secretary of the commission, Sunday's meeting has decided that the decision will be taken only after the task force presents its report about the infrastructures within a week.