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'Cops ransacking hospitals is unimaginable'

By PRASANNA D ZORE
December 26, 2019 09:02 IST
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'The police is there to protect Indian citizens, but now we have cops entering the hospitals and ransacking even the ICUs.'

IMAGE: Police personnel on the prowl during a rally against the amended Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizen in Mangaluru. Photograph: PTI Photo
 

The Indian Medical Association, a pan-India voluntary organisation of Indian doctors with a membership of 350,000 doctors, on December 21, 2019, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi drewing his attention to how the 'Union home ministry has scuttled the draft central legislation' that 'sought to enact a law which would have been a deterrent to rowdy elements of society who indulge in hospitals and destroy the property as well as attack the doctors in case of any mishap in a hospital.'

The very next day, on December 22, the IMA issued a statement denouncing the attack by policemen on two hospitals in Mangaluru during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and anti-National Register of Citizen protests in the city on December 20.

The IMA's December 22 statement said, 'There are disturbing reports from areas of protests and resistance that police have entered hospitals and at least in one case the ICU.'

'This is a new low in civic life of the nation but not entirely unexpected given the impunity with which violence is heaped on doctors and hospitals. However, the difference this time is that it is the establishment which has lost its restraint,' the IMA stated.

'All violence is unacceptable especially those perpetrated by the State on people who require medical attention and care,' the IMA statememt added. 'Everyone should feel comfortable in the hands that heal. Indian doctors will never let down whoever requires care. No politics can dilute this resolve.'

"While we had many instances of the public indulging in violence against the doctors and vandalising hospitals, what we saw happening in Mangaluru was very shocking," Dr Santanu Sen, IMA's national president and a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore.

The IMA's letter to Prime Minister Modi alleges the Union home ministry scuttled the health ministry's draft legislation proposal that sought to enact a law to prevent attacks against doctors.

The IMA has been fighting against such kind of attacks (against doctors and hospitals) since long.

The most surprising thing is how this government works.

When the Union ministry of health decided to form an inter-ministerial committee to bring a bill that would seek to prevent violence against doctors and hospitals, this inter-ministerial committee gave the responsibility to the IMA to prepare the draft bill.

The bill was prepared after seeking suggestions and opinions from the public.

After incorporating these views, the final draft was sent to the health ministry.

The health ministry then sent it to the home ministry.

Unfortunately, the home ministry turned down the proposal of the health ministry.

So, one department of the Government of India is turning down an important proposal of another department of the same government.

That is the most surprising thing of this government and that's why these types of incidents (the police invading hospitals in Mangaluru) happen and will keep happening.

While we had many instances of the public indulging in violence against the doctors and vandalising hospitals, what we saw happening in Mangaluru was very shocking.

The police is there to protect Indian citizens, but now we have the cops entering the hospitals and ransacking even the ICUs.

This is unimaginable.

Have you complained to the Mangaluru police commissioner about the policemen vandalising hospitals?

Do you think any other letter is needed to be written after I have already written to the prime minister of India?

Once I am addressing a letter to the prime minister of India, where is the need to write a letter to the police commissioner of Mangaluru?

What was the response from the prime minister's office?

We haven't heard from the prime minister yet.

The hard copies as well as an e-mail were sent to the PMO on December 21, but there has been no response yet.

Instead, we got a reply from the health ministry, in which, the honourable health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and expressed his concern.

But we believe Dr Harsh Vardhan's hands are also tied because in the present Union government only two persons matter: One is Narendra Modi and the other is Amit Shah.

No third person has any authority or capacity to take any decisions or act on any serious issue.

They are just puppets of these two people.

Do you expect attacks on hospitals and doctors to recur if there is no intervention from the top-most authorities?

The government has to be prepared for consequences if that happens.

We are not going to take such attacks lying down at any cost.

On the morning of December 27, we are having a central council meeting (of the IMA) in Kolkata where nearly 5,000 doctors from across India will assemble to discuss the future course of action.

We are planning to go for a big movement (for the safety and protection of doctors and hospitals against violence).

Our plans will be disclosed in due course of time.

Do you plan to pursue the bill for protection of doctors and hospitals with the PMO that had been rejected by the home ministry?

The Union home minister in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha says the NRC (National Register of Citizens) will take place in the entire country.

In Delhi's Ramlila ground the prime minister publicly says nobody in the government even discussed the NRC.

If the PM is contradicting the home minister and vice versa, then it is quite natural that the home ministry will not think twice before rejecting the proposals of the health ministry. That is what is happening now, the brunt of which is being faced by the doctors and hospitals now.

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
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