Government hospitals and dispensaries across Uttar Pradesh were completely paralysed after medical staffers went on a flash strike to protest the murder of Chief Medical Officer (family welfare) Dr V P Singh.
Singh was gunned down while he was taking a morning walk outside his residence in Lucknow on Saturday morning.
The killing of Singh, who was also general secretary of the Provincial Medical Service Association, sent shock waves across the medical community in the state, who demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Doctors in state-run medical and health centres have boycotted their duties, said reports. Even post-mortem, emergency and paramedical services were stalled across the 72 districts of the state.
PMS Association president Dr U N Rai told reporters, "We had no choice but to go on strike as we have reason to believe that laxity and callousness of the state police were responsible for the murder in broad daylight."
He added, "After all, this was not an isolated case."
Dr Rai was talking about the murder of Lucknow CMO (family welfare) Dr Vinod Arya, who was killed by masked motor-cyclists outside his residence in October last year.
The awarding of mega contracts for the supply of goods and equipment under the centrally funded National Rural Health Mission was stated to be the cause behind the murder.
It was the over Rs 3000 crore funding under the programme that prompted the state government to create a new position of CMO (family welfare) in addition to the traditional post of CMO, which oversees routine medical facilities in every district.
Many doctors working in prominent government hospitals in UP believe that large-scale pilferage from NRHM funds may have been the key factor behind the murder of Dr Singh.
The NRHM programme covers several areas including maternal and child health, routine immunisation, blindness control programme, leprosy control, tuberculosis and several vector borne diseases, besides hiring of medical as well as para-medical staff on a contract basis.
"The truth will never come out if the case is investigated by the state police, as they are bound to shield their political masters. That is why only a CBI probe can bring the real culprits to book," emphasised a senior PMS functionary.