On the 20th of June 2022, Dr Mohammed Shafi Shihabdeen was interviewed by our Editor-in-Chief, Mr Abdul Thawwab Ishaque via a phone call.
The interview begins with the introduction of Dr Shafi, performing as a Senior House Officer of the Gynaecology unit at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital. Dr Shafi stated that he is currently in the private sector and the government hasn’t reinstated him up to now.
Initiating with the first question,
Are you mentally fit to practice back in the same hospital with the same staff?
Dr Mohammed Shafi replied “I am mentally 100% fit to work in the same hospital and the same environment. Because I knew this was purely a political agenda and more than 99% of the hospital staff are very good people. I am mentally fit to work in the same station, in the same unit”
How was the surrounding when the incident took place back then? How did you tackle the incident?
“Soon after the bomb blast in April 2019, the Srilankan Muslim community had a very thundering depressive, low mood and couldn’t precipitate what would happen to them anytime. Those days were frightening. Likewise, I received many calls stating that I might get caught and get arrested”. He further said he was thinking about why they should arrest him or the reason for it. He said ” During those days, they came to my house and took me to get a statement from me. But then they kept me under their custody. I was arrested without any information. I was preparing a complaint against Minister Channa Jayasumana. They took me and kept me under custody”
Dr Shafi further briefs about how his family struggled throughout. “I was not there for 2 months, and my family was struggling a lot to survive, they were not in a position to live in Kurunegala. Especially, my kids were not in a position to go to the same school. My wife was also unable to work in the same hospital and had to move. They suffered a lot. We had to come to Colombo and needed to search schools for the kids and work for my wife”
He grievously stated that it was the “Worst Period.” “Soon after the release, once I came out of the scene I realized the gravity of the incident and the environment. It’s almost more than 3 years, and the majority of the Sinhalese never came across to me and verbally hurt me. So I love the Sinhalese community, the majority of them. There are very few people polluting this peaceful country. I love this country. I faced those incidents with difficulty but up to now I have not been having any bad experience with the majority of the community”
Why do you think that they're targeting you since the beginning? Do you have any connections with political parties or groups?
“Maybe they targeted me politically or during that time as I told you if they want to target a person, they don’t need to search for any issues even if there is a police or a person in the government sector. If they are angry with someone who is a Muslim, they will bring up reasons to torture them. I was working as a Senior House Officer for the last 17 years, and I had a good name by the majority of the staff. I had excellent popularity as a profession. That’s why I think jealousy has gotten into people. Most of the doctors and staff might have had jealousy with me, it has made them take revenge in this manner.” Dr Mohammed Shafi stated that being a medical professional as a Muslim doctor himself, He always trusted in his Almighty. Whatever happened in his life is a blessing. He even stated that even when he was kept in prison, it might be a blessing for his security. Because if he was out he might have gotten killed also. Dr Shafi’s statement brought out his spiritual and mental confidentiality.
Are people jealous of you because you don't participate in GMOA, strikes and relevant?
“I am a member of GMOA, even being a Union member. I never ever like to hurt people’s rights to achieve our goals. Making or going on strikes, you might be asking for a salary increment or something you might want to get from the government by violating the patients’ rights to get our own will or need. That is unethical from my point of view.” Dr Shafi added that he never supported these strikes and even argued with his colleagues. Because going on strikes makes the patients wait, and struggle and it’s unfair for those who come trusting of their doctors and surgeries. Being a medical professional he never admits strikes. So GMOA union political people don’t like him. Patients’ blessings becomes the internal energy being in a medical profession, he added.
After the judiciary decision on reimbursing your salary, how did you feel and what was the reaction of the surroundings?
Dr Shafi claimed that there were some appreciation and positive messages from people. Justice and Truth will always win. He further says ” I know there is no evidence for the allegations against me. I knew that one day, they will have to pay my salary and reinstate me. I knew someday I will be getting some of the money for myself and for my wife because in those days when I worked in the hospital, we thought of donating all the money which we get from working overtime.” He said that he planned to use this money to utilize it for charity purposes. Finally, this money has been used to buy drugs for health ministry hospitals because there was a severe shortage of drugs in those hospitals and a lot of patients were dying helplessly. “Like when I’m driving the car I see through the windscreen, not through the side mirror. Why should I fight and take revenge on others? This is not a return slap to the government, but merely just a donation back as charity”
So far have you filed any defamatory cases or are you planning to?
“Not yet. I am thinking about it because of the community’s request. My silence was on behalf of the community. I knew that they would be in trouble, with the government’s power they would arrest me again and hurt me again. In my case, not only my community, but all of the racial community’s people got together for me. So I have the responsibility for each and every action I take.
End of conversation.