Commemorating Dr. Guru
ANNIVERSARY - APRIL 1
This day we remember a star amongst a galaxy of medicos, Dr.Javid Iqbal writes.
Kashmir’s medical community has been enriched by some legendary figures. These eminent personalities have left a lasting impression, much beyond the pale of the medical profession. Dr. Abdul Ahad Guroo was one such figure, besides others. The premier figure amongst these legends continues to be Dr. Ali Jan. Apart from his unmatched public image as deft practitioner of medical art and the science involved in it, he had endearing qualities of head and heart, which made him a socialite of repute, highly connected. Questioning writings were planted vis a vis death of Sangh Parivar’s Shayma Prasad Mukerjee, imprisoned as he defied the ban on entering Kashmir without required permit. He was examined and treated by Dr.Jan. To question Dr Jan’s credibility was a mere figment of imagination. He was too dignified a person, to even remotely indulge in anything questionable or taking a patient, high or low, as anything but the one, who merits consideration.
Dr.Abdul Qadir, incidentally a grand-uncle of mine finds mention in Munshi Muhammad Din Fouq’s famous book ‘Tarikh-i-Aqwam Kashmir’ a book written on families in Kashmir. On [page 257, vol. I] of the book, the renowned author, a close associate of Allama Iqbal notes “Wasn’t it a mere reminder of the natural militant spirit of this caste [Parray’s] that while we witnessed majority of Punjabi military recruits bitterly weeping on Railway stations while leaving for services in World War [Ist. World war] a son of Parray’s left with a military contingent and as Medical Officer participated in the battles of Basra, Baghdad and East Africa? Today, that famous son of Kashmir is named Major Abdul Qadir and is looked on with esteem in the War Department. This represents the militant spirit of Kashmiris, for whom, Hindus or Muslims, Non-Kashmiri Governments have closed the door of Military services”! The page  carries a foot note “It is regretted that Major Abdul Qadir, who belonged to Sopore, expired in Jammu in 1932”. Amongst other medicos in this family, we could count Col (Dr) Gh. Nabi, Ex.Adminstator SMHS hospital, his son-Dr.Abdul Rouf, former Principal GMC Srinagar; Dr.Ataullah-servred in several high administrative positions in health services of Pakistan administered Kashmir.
In contemporary Kashmir, we find the likes of Dr. G.Q. Allaqaband, with a name and fame which like Dr.Jan gets well past the confines of medical profession. A social activist besides being a physician of repute, Dr. Allaqaband has today an iconic presence in medical profession. So has Dr. Khuroo, a keen researcher, besides his known medical expertise. Dr. Altaf, the best known pediatrician in the valley, Dr.Wahid, retired professor of medicine in SKIMS and Dr. Zaffar Mahdi, the endocrinologist are social activist with keen political instincts. A scion of Beigh family; Dr. Ashraf Beigh is a reputable columnist. Dr. Guru however became as reputed a political figure, as he was in handling the surgical knife.
I first came into contact with Dr. Guroo in District Hospital Varmul in 1971-72. He was B-Grade surgical specialist and I, as an assistant surgeon was assigned to work with him. I was a fresh graduate and it was Dr. Guroo, who taught me how to handle a surgical scalpel. What struck me immediately was his propensity, or may I say eagerness to transfer his art to anyone willing to learn. And make no mistake about it; he was an artist with surgical scalpel. I have always been a believer that there is as much art involved in medical science, as the element of science in it. We could look back to Greek masters. Hippocrates, the father of medical profession readily comes to mind, whose biological climb had a philosophical base. Moving to Islamic lore in medicine, Ibn Sena [Avicenna] and Razi [Razez] were as eminent in philosophy of life, as they were in medicine. And philosophy is defined as ‘love of wisdom’. Wisdom implies art of living. ‘Hakim’ in Islamic lore was not merely a practitioner of medical art, but a man well versed in other fields of knowledge. An attribute of Quran-i-Karim is Quran-al-Hakim [the word of wisdom].
Dr. Guroo’s expertise with surgical scalpel is too well known to demand elaboration. Suffice to say, during my three decades in Middle East, I had a chance to work with some eminent surgeon. Hardly ever did I see anyone, as deft and as adept in surgical practice as Dr. Guroo. And the Kashmiri touch was not limited to Dr. Guroo’s expertise. As we commemorate him today, being his death anniversary, it fills me with pride to share with readers, the impact the practitioners of medical art from valley, have left in health care institutions in Middle East, England and America. The impact is immense and doctors from the vale make their presence felt within days. It seems the laze, the lay back attitude gets worn off, as soon as Pir Panchal is crossed and further ahead, the subcontinental shores are left behind.
As I left the subcontinental shores, the ‘Apple Town Duo’ Guroo/Khuroo combine became household names in Kashmir, they held the reins in two major specialties…Medicine and surgery. The duo kick started SKIMS and left no stone unturned to make it a tertiary care center with a name. They might have been pioneers; there were others to render a helping hand. Dr’s Wahid, Sushil Razdan, Jalal-ud-Din, Showket Zargar, Hamid Zargar, Zubaida Jeelani, Nazir Wani, Meraj-ud-Din; all of them eminent professors in their field helped structure the edifice in human terms, what is now our premiere medical institute. They might have had their failings, to err being human; nevertheless they deserve to be saluted, for the effort that is so evident.
Dr. Guroo’s other interests became evident to me, during those early days in Varmul. He held strong views on political issues. Sometimes his airing of such views in presence of all and sundry gave me a scare. Quite often, I would suggest discretion. But his brave spirit was averse to exercise caution in stating, what he believed in. Even in those early days, it wouldn’t take much to see the trouble brewing for him. I remember an occasion, when we had to do a post mortem. Some police officials suggested caution in what we note. “What do you want a tailored report”? asked Dr. Guroo sternly, leaving the officials red faced, as we moved to Operation Theater to start a case. In the theatre, while I assisted him, he sympathized with the police officials, stating that in Kashmir, the dot line is “peace at all costs, even if it means a tailored medical report, trampling upon ethics”. As was his forte, he blamed it on political pressure getting on to police, which transfers to medicos in forensic work. I remembered, what Dr. Guroo said, as Shopian case last year turned into a forensic mess in toto! Not only had the forensics involved in police investigation suffered, but the medical forensics too. With the High Court in Srinagar withholding a carte blanche to CBI report, the case is far from over, after multiple post mortems, if the process of exhumation gets included. And in spite of multiplicity of reports and commissions, to quote one, we had Justice Jan contradicted by his supposed team mate; Haseeb Mughal.
In Varmul, in that period of yore, we proceeded with the post mortem only after Dr. Guroo got the assurance from the district officials to proceed without interference. It was actually a fight turning ugly between two groups of people resulting in murder, which had given shivers to administration. As we started the post mortem, after we rounded up our operative procedure, I heard a pensive Dr. Guroo relating in somber mode, the pain of Kashmir, as he so often would! During my years abroad, our association had left an impact on our off-springs, my son Wajahat; a senior executive in oil related industry in Sharjah and Khalid, Dr. Guroo’s son became bosom friends. On my trips back home, Dr. Guroo’s humour would come to fore, as he would ask me “how long would it take to complete the dollar target”? It was obvious; he wanted professionals to return to serve his beloved Kashmir, a place he never left, in spite of tempting offers abroad. On his martyrdom, I wasn’t surprised to hear Yaseen Malik declaring that he was a member of JKLF executive. There were reports that in his efforts to seek a solution, he had been in contact with different quarters. That wasn’t beyond him, in spite of his strong views, he had a sensitive core. In his profession, he believed in resolution. That in fact is the core of medical science, resolution of a problem. In his politics too. if in fact, Dr. Guroo was trying for conflict resolution, having known him, I wouldn’t be surprised! There is regret however; Jhelum Valley College, that he kick started amongst others with Dr. Mustufa Kamal does not exhibit even an iota of evidence, as to who conceived and turned it to reality, a dream. Political differences should not come in the way of saluting a hero!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi
[Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Feedback at Iqbal_drji6217@yahoo.co.in or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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