Residents' physicians' organisations in Delhi threatened to shut down medical services on Monday, claiming a savage police assault on their protest about the delay in college allotments following the NEET postgraduate exam.
The Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA), which has led the protest for the past month, said 4,000 of its members halted a sit-in outside the Sarojini Nagar police station about midnight on Monday to comply with the coronavirus night curfew. They claimed they had been stopped earlier in the day from marching towards the Health Ministry's offices.
The Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) has requested that all RDAs affiliated with it, as well as other doctors' organisations across India, shut down healthcare services completely beginning Wednesday. The AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association has come out in favour of FORDA, stating that if the government does not respond adequately within 24 hours, all non-emergency services will be shut down on Wednesday.
Many women doctors claimed they were manhandled throughout their march, which culminated in an intense police confrontation and a vigil far into the freezing December night. Patient care remained affected at three major government-run hospitals - Safdarjung, RML and Lady Hardinge - among others, news agency PTI reported, while junior doctors said the delay in NEET-PG counselling continued to hold back an entire cohort from entering medical colleges.
Alleging that they are being overworked and "operating at 66 per cent capacity", they have been demanding the urgent recruitment of new doctors, which has been on hold for over a year because the Supreme Court has been hearing a case involving reservation in medical admissions.
FORDA president Manish Nigam said that resident doctors of a large number of major hospitals on Monday "returned their apron (lab coat) in a symbolic gesture of rejection of services".
The police denied any allegations of using excessive force or abusive language and said only 12 protesters were detained and released later. They said for over six to eight hours, the protesters blocked a part of Delhi's arterial ITO road. Repeated requests were made to them to move away from the spot, but they continued to jam the road. Later, both the carriageways of the ITO Marg were also blocked by the protesters, according to the police. "We spoke to the association members and tried to sort out the issue, but they continued to block the roads," a police official said. According to police, while the protesters were being removed from the roads, they tried to tear the uniform of the police personnel. They even broke the glasses of police vehicles and misbehaved with the policemen. The resident doctors' association on Saturday had said its members will be forced to go for "mass resignation" from services if their demands are not met at the earliest. 37CommentsScores of them also lit up 'diyas' to register their protest and banged utensils - deriding the gestures exalted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to honour frontline and healthcare workers.