Indian gynecologist attacked by masked men on Hoarafushi
“They broke in to my room with their faces covered, holding knives, and they tried to attack me,” Dr Deepali told Minivan News. “I could only see their eyes. It was like the worst nightmare I have ever seen.”
Dr Deepali said at first she tried to escape by shouting, but then the men tried to cover her mouth and tie a rope to her neck.
“I dialed the last dialed number on my phone and it was the health centre. When the health centre answered the phone the attackers snatched it from my hands and switched it off, but luckily the person who answered heard me screaming.”
Dr Deepali said she fought with the men and was able to escape.
“I held their knife and pushed them back, then jumped out of the window and screamed for help,” the doctor said. “Then they ran away.”
Dr Deeplai said it was the “worst experience I have ever had” and that she would “never ever come back to the Maldives.”
“I’ll even advise my friends and my students not to choose Maldives,” she said. “I mean why should they do this? I did my best to serve the people here, why should they do this to me?”
Dr Deepali said she had no idea what had motivated the pair to attack her, and said she was emotionally, mentally and physically hurt in the incident.
Deputy chair of the island council Ali Riyaz, who told Minivan News he was the first to attend the scene, said the incident was “regrettable”.
Riyaz said he first heard of the incident when the doctor phoned a councilor during a council meeting last night at 9:50pm, and told him “someone has tried to rape me.”
“I went to her room immediately and called the police,” Riyaz said. “Her room is very close to the Council Office and we rushed there very quickly. When we knocked on the door she did not open it because she was so frightened.”
Once the councilors had convinced Dr Deepali who they were, “she came outside and started crying – her dress was torn and she was injured,” Riyaz said. “She said two men with their faces covered entered her room and attacked her.”
Riyaz said the doctor had told them not to do this to her and that she was like a sister to them.
“She even told them to take any amount of money they wanted, and also to take any electronics including her laptop if they wanted, without attacking her.”
Police had arrested 11 people following the incident, Riyaz said.
“Two of them were the two men suspected by the police, and the other nine were those who went [to police] of their own accord because they have past crime records and they wanted to show that they had no hand in this incident,” Riyaz said.
Dr Deepali was the only specialist working in the Hoarafushi Health Centre and the only gynecologist in the entire atoll. Riyaz said her departure would be “a great loss” for the atoll.
“She had decided to leave Maldives some time ago,” he said. “She was a great doctor and is loved by many islanders across the atoll.”
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police had arrested two promising suspects, although he said their motives remained unclear.
The community had been very supportive of the police investigation and were taking care of Dr Deeplai, he said: “The heart of the whole island is with her.”
Dr Deepali, who had been working in the island for almost a year, was attacked last evening by masked men wielding a knife as she was about to enter her apartment after returning from duty around 11pm.
“I was about to enter my apartment when they confronted me with a knife. I said I would give as much money as they demanded but they wanted something else from me and brought the knife close to my body. So I jumped out of the window and started crying for help. That’s when they left,” she told Haveeru today.
Dr Deepali, who is planning to return to India after talking with the hospital management, claimed to have had injured herself during her attempts to escape and was traumatized by the experience.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in my life and I’m very scared now. I don’t want to stay here anymore,” she said.
Hoarafushi has recently gained a reputation for notoriety as a murdered man was found from an abandoned house in the island last year.
Thaa Atoll Hospital’s doctors on strike
Head of Thaa Atoll Hospital, Midhath Nasir, told Minivan News that expat doctors and nurses have complained that their visas have not been renewed accordingly and that they have had difficulties in leaving the country in emergency situations.
“All the expat doctors and nurses have stopped work and all the patients that came today had to go home without receiving any services,” Nasir said, but added that there were no patients currently admitted to the hospital in a critical condition.
A technician working in the laboratory of the hospital recently needed to urgently return to his home country, Nasir said, but was unable to do so because of the visa renewal issue.
“His visa was not renewed and because he had an expired visa, he could not make there on time,” Nasir said.
Nasir said that he had requested the doctors and nurses make a list of issues and hand it over to him so that he could forward it to the Health Corporation.
“I do not know what other issues they have, after I get the list I will know,” he said. “All the nurses and doctors currently working in the hospital are expats.”
Minivan News requested a contact number for one of the striking staff, but Nasir said he did not have the contact number of any doctor or nurse working at the hospital.
Meanwhile local newspaper Haveeru reported that more than 25 expats working at the hospital had met with the atoll council and complained about their issues.
The paper reported that head of the Atoll Council, Abdulla Shareef, had told the paper that the Health Corporation was counting staff vacation days in contradiction to how their contracts required the days to be counted, as the days staff had spend in the Maldives waiting for their visas to be renewed were being deducted from their vacation allowance.
Doctors and nurses told the council that in some cases their vacation days were all but over by the time they reached their home country.
Shareef also told the paper that the hospital was using expired medicines imported during 2004 tsunami, and that doctors were being blamed for not having enough medicine in the hospital.