On February 24, without getting a chance to change his clothes, Dr Muhammad Ehtesham Anwer rushed to Al-Hind hospital that he runs with his brother in Delhi's in New Mustafabad area, to save those injured in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) clashes protests at the North-East part of in the city. But now, he is being investigated for allegedly instigating the riots and being involved in a murder.
Speaking to local media, Dr Anwer remembered that he reached the hospital on the same day of returning from a trip in to Bihar.
According to him, his hospital saved many lives after the violent sectarian clashes broke out in several Hindu and Muslim majority areas across North-East Delhi. "Was it a crime to try and save the lives of those who were suffering? Is this campaign to malign me and scare anyone else who brings attention to government failure?" he was quoted as saying.
At least 51 people were killed during the riots.
Hailed by his neighbours as a local hero, the medical professional's name has been mentioned in a chargesheet recently submitted by the Delhi police.
‘Shocking and shameful’
"All I did was provide medical services to those who needed it. I did not even ask if the patients were Hindu or Muslim. I did what I could by virtue of humanity," Dr Anwer was quoted as saying by CNN-News18, an Indian English language news television channel.
The doctor said that the news was both “shocking and shameful”.
As roads across north-eastern part of Delhi remained shut amidst the curfew in the week following March 23, with rioters especially targeting ambulances, Dr Anwer and his brother Dr Meraj Ekram provided emergency medical services to nearly 500 patients.
He treated patients with fractured skulls, broken bones, those who had been attacked with sticks and metal rods, and some even had bullet wounds.
The two doctors, along with two nurses and one other medical professional, managed to arrange for medicines and emergency services during the curfew and had serious patients sent to other hospitals.
Waiter’s murder investigation
Four months since the riots, Dr Anwer has been named in the murder of Dilbar Negi, a waiter who worked at a nearby restaurant and was killed by a mob during the riots. The doctor has been accused of leading the protests and instigating mobs that committed violence.
"I have never been part of any protests. I am a doctor and my job is to treat people and save lives, which is exactly what I did," Dr Anwer was quoted as saying.
According to reports, the doctor believes that he was named in the chargesheet because of sending out ambulances during the curfew earlier this year.
‘His duty was his only crime’, say tweeps
As the news circulated online, Twitter users in India questioned why the doctor was being investigated and called it “injustice”.
Twitter user @RanaAyyub wrote: “The owner of a hospital, which had during the North-East Delhi riots provided emergency treatment to victims, has been named by the Delhi Police as the organiser of a protest whose participants indulged in violence. Does this injustice not affect you?”
Tweep @M_PRACHA criticised Delhi Police and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation in India: “Standing up for humanity, justice equality is the biggest crime in the eyes of @rss and its affiliates. He saved lives of people who the criminals in @rss and @DelhiPolice wanted to kill. That was his duty as a doctor and that’s his only crime.”
“Being punished for humanity has become a norm in India,” wrote another tweep, @shaik_mubeen.