NEET-PG counselling protest: The police have denied they used excessive force and said the protesters misbehaved with them.
Resident doctors’ groups in Delhi on Monday threatened a complete shutdown of medical services, alleging a brutal police crackdown on their protest against the delay in college allotments after the NEET postgraduate exam.
The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA), which has been spearheading the protest for a month now, said 4,000 of its members ended a sit-in at the Sarojini Nagar police station around midnight on Monday to adhere to the coronavirus night curfew. They said they had been stopped from marching towards the Health Ministry’s offices earlier in the day.
The Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) has called upon all RDAs associated with it as well as other doctors’ associations across India for complete shutdown of healthcare services from Wednesday. The AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association has come out in support of FORDA, saying it shall shut down all non-emergency services on Wednesday if no adequate response is received from the government within 24 hours.
Calling it a “black day” for the medical fraternity, many women doctors alleged that they were manhandled during their march in the day that culminated in an intense face-off with the police and a vigil well into the chilly 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”.
“We also tried to march from the campus of the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) to Supreme Court, but soon after we had started it, security personnel did not allow us to proceed,” he said, adding that some of the junior doctors were injured in clashes with the cops who resorted to force.
However, 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.
Scores 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.