Irfan Masih case: PDSN denounces doctors’ negligence


KARACHI: Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN), a coalition of over two dozen rights-based civil society organisations, has strongly condemned the death of Irfan Masih, a manual sanitary worker in Umerkot who died in Civil Hospital, Umerkot on June 01, 2017, due to criminal negligence by doctors and relevant staff of local Municipal Committee.

PDSN representatives Dr Sono Khangharani, Pirbhulal and Zulfiqar Shah, in a joint statement, expressed their grief over the attitude of local doctors and authorities, which clearly demonstrate discrimination meted out to low-caste Christians and Hindus.

“This is not a simple accidental death. This is a clear case of caste and descent-based discrimination, which is yet to be criminalised in Pakistan,” said the statement. “People being discriminated on the basis of their professions and the refusal of emergency medical treatment on the basis of someone being polluted must be considered a criminal offence,” they added.

The PDSN office bearers said that they want a full inquiry into the incident.

“These poor workers are made to do most dangerous work without any safety equipment,” said the statement. “Cleaning of deep gutters is done by machines whereas in our country it’s mostly done manually which put lives of poor workers in danger. This is what exactly happened with Irfan.”

They have urged the Sindh government to also review the working conditions of sanitary workers.

30-year-old Irfan Masih, fell unconscious along with three other sanitary staff while cleaning a manhole on Chorr Road in Umerkot.

He died hours later in the government hospital in front of doctors who were allegedly reluctant to treat him because Irfan was drenched in sewage sludge. The other three sanitary workers, Faisal Masih, Yaqoob Masih and Shaukat Masih, were referred to Hyderabad and later Karachi for medical treatment.



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