A top Bangladesh pediatric doctor said Sunday he had been transferred to a remote rural clinic after criticising the country’s cricket captain on social media. Rezaul Karim, a child cancer specialist, was posted to the southeastern district of Rangamati weeks after criticising skipper Mashrafe Mortaza on Facebook. “I have been transferred to Rangamati Medical College which doesn’t have any cancer treatment facilities. This seems to me an unnatural process,” he told AFP.
Mohsin Uddin, a deputy secretary of the country’s health ministry who signed the transfer order, said it was “only an administrative decision”, and rejected any suggestion it was a punishment. A social media row started after Mortaza, the country’s most popular sportsman and a member of parliament for the ruling party, visited a state-run hospital in his rural constituency and became infuriated when he found several doctors absent.
A video of Mortaza criticising one senior doctor by telephone went viral on social media. Karim said he was one of six doctors served notice by the country’s health ministry after writing a Facebook post criticising Mortaza for “taking pleasure in bowling Bangladeshi doctors”. Two months later he was ordered to remote Rangamati, where a low-intensity tribal insurgency has simmered for decades.
Karim’s sudden transfer from a cancer facility in Chittagong -- where he was treating over 100 young patients -- has also grabbed local media headlines. Bengali daily Manabjamin said the transfer was a consequence of Karim’s “disrespectful” Facebook remark against Mortaza, who enjoys enormous popularity in cricket-mad Bangladesh. Mortaza is currently in England taking part in the World Cup.
Mortaza hails from the southwestern Narail district, where his charity Narail Express -- also the fast bowler’s nickname -- has donated ambulances to hospitals and rice seed to farmers. Turning to politics after retirement is not unusual for South Asian cricketers, but Mortaza is still playing, captains Bangladesh in the one-day format of the game, and intends to lead the team even after the World Cup.