Assaulted India-born doctor recovers, attackers still at large

By Neena Bhandari, IANS,

Sydney : India-born doctor and former head of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Mukesh Haikerwal has almost recovered from the savage bashing by a gang that also attacked four others in a Melbourne suburb last month, but police are yet to find the culprits.

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The much respected doctor was said to have been attacked in Melbourne’s Williamstown suburb by a gang of about six people aged between 17 and 21, of medium-build and Caucasian-looking, who went on a one-hour rampage and assaulted four more people in a five kilometre radius on the night of Sep 27.

“Probably senseless is the word to describe them. All the victims have complied with the request to give over their personal belongings and after they’ve given them over, they’ve been assaulted,” Senior Constable Mark Anderson told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) Thursday as Victoria Police appealed for witnesses to come forward.

The 47-year-old doctor was hit on the head with a baseball bat and then repeatedly kicked as he lay on the ground near his home at the Dennis Reserve. The police have released an identikit picture of the youth they believe used the bat.

After two weeks, Haikerwal remains in Western General Hospital hospital, but has almost made full recovery after being placed in an induced coma and undergoing emergency surgery to remove life-threatening blood clotting from around his brain.

Haikerwal’s brother, Deepak Haikerwal, told AAP: “We’re very, very pleased with his progress and, from our point of view … he looks almost back to normal. We’re hopeful that it won’t be long before he’s home.”

The doctor is currently undergoing therapy at the Epworth Rehabilitation Centre and is said to be progressing “very well”.

A champion of public health, Haikerwal is a member of the Australian government’s National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission and chair of the World Medical Association Finance and Planning Committee.

His wife, Karyn, and their sons, Suresh, Ajaya and Jeevan, have been at his bedside as the police seek public help to identify the attackers.

Haikerwal was born in Lucknow, but grew up in England. In 1990, he moved to Australia and set up a medical general practice in Melbourne’s western suburbs, where he still works.