6 June 2009
By Santosh Andhale
Unsung heroes: Surgeons Jitendra Sankpal and Vivek Tilwani during an informal felicitation ceremony at the Grant Medical College
Six months after others have been honoured for their labours on that ghastly night, these two doctors have finally been recommended by the JJ Hospital authorities for felicitation.
Both Dr Sankpal and Dr Tilwani had been part of the posse of doctors who operated upon 26/11 victims following the attacks.
In fact, Dr Sankpal was called to duty from Vashi, following news of the attacks, and was stopped near Crawford Market where the police pointed the gun at him, asking him to come out of his car. It was only after he identified himself as a surgeon from GT Hospital, was he allowed to proceed.
The doctor then went on to treat as many as 21 patients on that night, many of whom had received bullet injuries to their head and chest.
In a similar vein, Dr Tilwani–who is an honorary professor at GT Hospital–was the first surgeon to have reached the hospital on November 26 at around 10.30 pm. The terrorists, by that time, had entered Cama and Albless Hospital.
Dr Tilwani took the initiative and spoke to the police control room and senior police officers informing them about terrorists’ activities.
“He then asked the staff and the patients to hide under the beds and then switched off lights, which led to the saving of several lives,” a report to the state government stated.
Surprisingly, the efforts of both these doctors were not recognised during a special felicitation function on December 15, wherein other staffers were awarded commendation certificates.
After complaints that several staff members were still ignored, a second felicitation function was held on January 15, wherein over 450 employees from Cama, GT and St George Hospital were honoured.
Dr Sankpal and Dr Tilwani’s names did not feature even in this second list.
“What really bothered us was that those who came in later were honoured, whereas we were ignored for reasons unknown to us. We were later felicitated at a small function at the Grant Medical College, but that was merely to placate us.
“It was not a state honour. We decided to fight on principle since an official honour is something that we value, not a placatory effort,” said Dr Tilwani.
After their petition to the state, a probe was ordered to find why they were ignored.
At the third inquiry, the Head of the Surgery department and the GT Hospital superintendent gave a favourable report.
It was reviewed by the JJ Hospital dean who okayed both reports and submitted his recommendation to the DMER that both doctors needed to be honoured.
“I have sent my report to the DMER three days ago. The DMER will now take a decision,” said Dr R S Inamdar, Dean of the JJ Hospital.
“We are happy that after six months, the government recognised our work,” said Dr Jitendra Sankpal, unit in charge, Surgery department, G T Hospital.