M A I N   N E W S

Anti-quota medicos face teargas, water cannons
Hundreds detained; IMA calls for closure of hospitals
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 12
Hours after they made the announcement to intensify the fight against reservation for OBCs in higher education, medical students took to the streets in the Capital demanding the Prime Minister’s intervention on the issue. Medical services in the city’s hospitals also remained disrupted.

Agitating students, were stopped from marching to the Prime Minister’s office by the police, who used water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse them.

Taking note of the police excesses, the Indian Medical Association today went on a day’s token strike. It has called for suspending work on Monday in all hospital in the city.

“We have taken this decision following the brutality of the police. Their action today was barbaric,” said Dr Vinay Agarwal of the IMA. He said the IMA had appealed to all doctors’ associations to go on a 24-hour token strike to pledge their support for the agitating students.

Health services in most hospitals today remained affected as resident doctors suspended work to express solidarity with hundreds of students who were demonstrating and later detained by the police and kept in various police stations across the city.

Patients were sent back even from the emergency units in most of the hospitals including the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sucheta Kripalani and Lady Hardinge.

Referring to the adverse impact on health services, protesting students of the Youth for Equality said, “We are not against patients, but we have been forced to take the fight forward.”

Following their scuffle with the police, students courted arrest and reiterated that “any police action will not deter them”.

“After we courted arrest, we have been detained in various police stations. We are not sure when we will be released, but the protest would continue” said Ritin, a student from the Vardhaman Medical College, even as he remained detained.

Police sources said students detained in five police stations would be released later in the evening.

Late last evening, students under the banner of Youth for Equality, said that with the May 11 deadline having expired and in the absence of any statement from the Prime Minister, they have resolved to intensify their strike.

The students also cautioned that if the government fails to go back on the proposed reservation, they may not be able to “assure a peaceful demonstration”.

The students also accused the Union HRD Minister for “siding with the pro-reservationists”. “Mr Arjun Singh told us that he cannot utter a word about the issue because of the Election Commission’s directives, but he chose to address a pro-reservation gathering. Is that not violation of code of conduct?” Jitendra Jain, of the IP University asked.

Drawing attention to the widespread anger within the student community across the country, Sasmit Sarangi of the Youth for Equality said, “Till now, we have maintained peace, but now we are finding it difficult to control the students. We are receiving support calls from across the nation and we cannot assure that the fight, which has been peaceful, will remain so. Students are ready to take to the streets”.


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