M A I N   N E W S

Medicos to continue stir
Reject PM’s Ministerial panel; Govt threatens action
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
With their demand for setting up an “independent, non-political committee” to study the reservation policy not yet met, students protesting against quotas have decided to continue their indefinite hunger strike.

The government’s notification to doctors to return to work or face the consequences has also failed to dissuade them from striking work.

Criticising the government for “failing them”, Sasmit Sarangi of the Youth for Equality today said: “If the Prime Minister has indeed formed a four-member committee, comprising Union Ministers, to study the issue, it makes no sense to us,”.

Perturbed by Dr Manmohan Singh’s silence on the issue, their anger has been aggravated further by the reports of an informal group of four members, comprising P. Chidamabaram, Arjun Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and Hansraj Bhardwaj, being formed to work out a compromise formula that will protect the interests of different sections.

“We have been asking for a non-political committee that will work in the best interest of all. This committee that has been formed appears to be pro-reservation, then how can we be assured of an impartial report,” questioned Sarangi.

He also pointed out that the government’s bid to coerce doctors to return to work has failed to affect their morale. “By sending out notifications they have united us. We are more resolute than before to continue our agitation and the hunger strike,” said Sarangi.

The striking medicos also met Union Minister Oscar Fernandes here today to discuss their ongoing anti-reservation stir.

“He came to the AIIMS campus this morning and invited the representatives for a discussion. After hearing us he told us that we will meet again and see if there is any way out,” said Sarangi.

Oscar Fernandes has clarified that he was not meeting the students at the behest of the government.

Meanwhile, the government today sent out notices to doctors asking then to return to work within 24 hours, failing which their services would be terminated.

The government also claimed that it has roped in doctors from the Army and the CGHS to provide services in hospitals were work has been severely affected. The leave of all doctors and hospital staff in government medical colleges and hospitals, like AIIMS, has also been cancelled.

As health services continued to remain affected by the strike that entered its fourth day today, violence on the AIIMS campus was averted when pro-reservationists led by Dalit leader Udit Raj tried to forcibly enter enclosure where the medicos are on a hunger strike.

The police barred activists of the All-India Christian Minorities Committee, the Prajapita Mahasabha and the Pro-Reservation Front from entering the premises.

“We have managed to keep our protest peaceful so far and today also we did not get provoked into retaliating. We remained firm on being non-violence,” said Ashish, a medico on hunger strike.

The students also came down heavily on politicians playing the “caste card”, “by resorting to the policy of divide and rule, they are turning the issue into a caste war”, said a group of students from Maulana Azad Medical College.


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