M A I N   N E W S

Medicos go on strike, patients bear the brunt
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
A little after 9 am today, when OPDs began functioning at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, anxiety was palpable in front of corridors, where patients awaited their turn, and inside, where a harried administration tried to ensure minimal disruption of services, as hundreds of resident doctors went on a mass casual leave.

While health services remained disrupted despite emergency and trauma services functioning without glitches, medicos continued to suffer police excesses for the second consecutive day.

At least 700 resident doctors, who went on a mass casual leave, and medical students from the city’s five medical colleges, who went on a day’s strike, to protest against the government’s decision to table the quota Bill in Parliament, threatened to continue their agitation.

“Resident doctors in major hospitals will continue to remain on a mass casual leave and students will, in all probability, suspend classes indefinitely”, said members of the AIIMS RDA.

Students and doctors who gathered at the India Gate to form a human chain as a mark of protest, were dispersed by the police by using tear gas shells and water cannons.

Some resident doctors were injured following a scuffle that ensued as striking medicos clashed with the police personnel in front of the Supreme Court.

The resident doctors of the AIIMS, the MAMC and the Hindurao Hospital were staging a sit-in demonstration in front of the Supreme Court.

“At the India Gate, the police manhandled girls and there were no women police personnel”, said students of the University College of Medical Sciences. The students said they were on their way to give a memorandum to the court Registrar when the police burst tear gas shells.

The police said they had to use tear gas shells and water cannons as the students were moving towards the Supreme Court, where prohibitory orders were in place.

The students claimed that they had been assured by the police that they could proceed from the India Gate to the Supreme Court.

“Last evening, a DCP gave us a verbal assurance that we could march from the India Gate to the Supreme Court and today, they detained at least 200 of us”, said Dr Lokesh, who was detained at the Tilak Marg police station.

Distraught over the continued police excesses against striking medicos, resident doctors and members of the Youth For Equality, censuring the Congress, announced, that students and doctors would take a pledge never to vote for the Congress.

The anti-quota protesters criticised the government for failing to see the reason behind the protest and regretted being subject to police brutality.

They said while they had called off their stir following the Supreme Court’s directive, the government was guilty of rushing matters, though the issue was sub judice.

“We want the government to tell us the basis for the implementation of reservation for OBCs and why the creamy layer has not been excluded”, questioned members of the Youth for Equality.

With the OBC quota Bill expected to be tabled tomorrow, the anti-reservation protesters now intended to march towards Parliament.

“We will have general body meetings in all medical colleges and hospitals and will decide whether we will march to Parliament or take some other action to show our protest. We will also decide whether undergraduate students will go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow”, said members of the Safdurjung Hospital RDA, where doctors observed a black day and would go on a mass casual leave.




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