The Good Doctor's Complications

AS A Muslim doctor, it is my duty to serve the poor,” says Mohammad Hasan, 34, a government doctor in Rajasthan. When SIMI was banned in 2001, Hasan was serving at an anti-malaria medical camp in a Jaisalmer village. Hasan first heard of the ban on September 29, two days after it was promulgated, from newspapers reaching his camp. A week later, on October 6, the police arrested him and charged him for being a member of an unlawful organisation. Hasan was given bail the same day.
The police claimed that on September 29, Hasan distributed seditious literature, including pamphlets in Rajasthan’s Pali district. But Hasan had a watertight alibi: the attendance register at the Jaisalmer anti-malaria camp. “The police obviously thought I would be at Pali where I was then posted,” Hasan laughs. “They probably hadn’t heard that I was on deputation at the medical camp in Jaisalmer.”
Should have been an openand- shut case, right? Wrong. After the case against him was registered, the state government suspended Hasan from his job. He moved the Rajasthan High Court. A single bench ruled in his favour. The government refused to reinstate him. Hasan appealed before a two-judge bench. This, too, ruled in his favour. The government appealed before the Supreme Court. In July 2003, nearly two years after his suspension, the Supreme Court ordered Hasan’s reinstatement — with back wages, increments and allowances. Ten days later, he was back in his job.
Hasan devoted himself to further studies alongside his job. Last year, he earned an MD in Radio Diagnosis. He is currently serving as Medical Officer at the district hospital in Dholpur city. In 2005, Hasan cleared the prestigious Rajasthan Public Services Commission exam to be elevated as a doctor in the state cadre. But the Health Department rejected his appointment as the routine police verification showed he had been a SIMI member. Hasan has moved the High Court again. On another petition, the High Court has stayed his criminal trial in the original case.
The stigma of SIMI is a social handicap for Hasan, a shadow that never leaves his side. “No one rents me their houses,” says Hasan. He changed houses thrice in Bikaner. At Dholpur, he has been living at the hospital guesthouse since last year. His wife and two small children live with her parents at Jaipur. Wherever he goes, Hasan is followed by state intelligence personnel.
Of course, Hasan was once a member of SIMI. In fact, at the time of the ban, he was SIMI’s national general secretary. But until the ban, no case was ever filed against him.
“I am no criminal or terrorist,” Hasan says. “I am a Muslim and a doctor and I’ll always serve my people.”