Nine Ulema hospitalised for food poisoning
18 December, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Secretary-General Liaquat Baloch and seven other Ulema fainted after eating poisonous sweets (Sohan Halva) at the residence of a senior JUI-F senator here at the parliamentary lodges on Thursday.
All Ulema, who were attending a meeting at the flat of Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, were rushed to the Federal Government Services Hospital (FGSH) for emergency treatment at 11.30am.
Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Liaquat Baloch along with Maulana Abdul Khaliq and Hafiz Abdul Rauf were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital where they remained in semi-unconscious condition for almost 10 hours and could not talk to doctors or attendants.
Others who suffered food poisoning included JI Punjab Naib Amir and former MNA Mian Muhammad Aslam, JI Islamabad Naib Amir Zubair Farooq Khan, Rashidul Haq Haqqani, Mahr Din Baloch and two servants of Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri Zakir Hussain and Qurban Ali.
The secretariat police have registered a case of murder attempt against unknown persons on the report of Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. Doctor on duty at the ICU of the hospital said all the persons admitted to the ICU are now stable. “They will be discharged tomorrow,” he said. Others were shifted to medical and emergency wards.
The doctor said blood samples of all the victims have been taken for laboratory tests. The police have also taken remaining quantity of the sweet from the residence of Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and its samples have been sent to the National Institute of Health for laboratory test.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who visited the hospital to enquire after Ulema amid tight security arrangements, said he had ordered inquiry into the incident and newly appointed chief commissioner of Islamabad had been directed to submit the inquiry report.
He said Maulana Haideri, whose servant received sweets from an unknown person, could be the target. It is still a mystery as to who brought ‘Halva’ to the residence of Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
According to details, Ulema were attending a meeting in the flat of Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri at the parliamentary lodges on Thursday morning. The dish of ‘Sohan Halva’ along with biscuits was served with tea. Condition of meeting participants started deteriorating within 15 to 20 minutes and they were rushed to hospital in different vehicles.
Mufti Muneebur Rehman, who was attending an Ulema and Mashaikh meeting at the National Library auditorium had come to meet Liaquat Baloch and others at the parliamentary lodges also took some quantity of ‘Halva’. He returned to the National Library where his condition deteriorated.
“The victims reached the hospital in time and they were provided timely treatment,” the doctor said. The effect of the poisonous ‘Halva’ was so severe that stomachs of all victims had to be washed. A nurse present at the ICU said the patients, when brought to the hospital, were not able to walk and their condition was lethargic and they were unconscious.
Talking informally to newsmen, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who looked very upset over the incident, said he was a target of the poisonous sweet but unfortunately, it was eaten by his respectable guests. He said he arrived at his flat at 11.45pm on Wednesday night and found a decorated basket on the table. He said as he was feeling sleepy, he could not check the gift. He further said next morning his guests arrived at his residence for meeting and the sweet dish was presented to them.
Mian Aslam, who was allowed to go home in the evening, said he took very small quantity of the ‘Halva’ and his condition started deteriorating within 15 minutes. A large number of JI leaders, workers, friends and students also reached the hospital to enquire after their leaders. Talking to this correspondent, Mufti Muneebur Rehman said what he had eaten was ‘Halva’ of black colour and he took very small quantity. Liaquat Baloch said with the grace of Allah, his condition was improving. “If it was a conspiracy or murder attempt, we will not move back from our stand,” he said.