Doctors at government hospitals in Karnataka have been staging a sit-in for five days to protest against repeated cases of assault, demanding action against the attackers.
''I am not a terrorist, I am a doctor and I don't deserve to die at my workplace'', read a placard held by one of the 1000 government doctors protesting against another case of assault. The junior residents have been staging a sit-in for five days now, demanding action against the attackers. The incident itself took place on November 1 at Minto Hospital run by the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute. At 3.30 pm, 30-35 members from Kannada Rakshana Vedike, a pro-Kannada organisation, barged into the hospital OPD premises.
The protesters were demanding compensation for several patients who had lost their eyesight following cataract surgeries in July this year. When the junior female doctor refused to speak to them, they allegedly heckled her and assaulted her physically.
''They demanded that the junior resident answer the questions being raised by the association. The doctor responded by saying 'I know Kannada. But I do not wish to speak with you'' which was inferred as 'I do not wish to speak in Kannada'. There was another case of assault on a male doctor on the same day for which we have also submitted the evidence. There is also evidence of mental abuse and physical manhandling by using expletives on the female doctor. They are not supposed to barge into the hospital without prior intimation. We have filed an FIR and they are non-bailable offences which warrants immediate action. But no action has been taken so far. This protest is to demand action against those responsible for this attack'', says Dr Venugopal, member of the Resident Doctors' Association.
The government on Monday announced compensation of Rs 3 lacs for patients who lost their eyesight and asked the protesting doctors to return to duty. But the doctors have been adamant on not returning to duty until the perpetrators are punished. ''Even the victims who lost their eyesight have grievances. The doctors have their own grievances. The police are taking action as per law. Forcing a procedure is not fair. We are educated people. The system is built for the people. Whatever their concern, we are here to address it. If they don't have confidence, how can the system run?'' said Ashwath Narayan, Deputy CM, Karnataka.
Female doctors were particularly shaken up after the incident where the doctor was physically assaulted by Ashwini Gowda. ''We work round the clock in casualty and ICU irrespective of gender. We are all doctors here. But it is a very sensitive issue that a female doctor got attacked. The government should take up the matter. There will be fear among students and parents. Our parents send us here to achieve well in our profession. But now they are worried for the safety and lives of their children. This is an important issue that is not getting the attention it deserves from the common man'', says Dr Rekha.
Doctors from Vani Vilas Hospital, Bowring Hospital, Minto Hospital and Victoria Hospital participated in the sit-in and have threatened to make it an indefinite strike if there is a delay in taking action against the attackers. ''There are many laws that have been brought to protect us. But numerous incidents of violence occur against medicos. None of the laws are effectively implemented. Every time we protest, they promise to tighten protection. But action against the culprits is never taken. This encourages more such acts'', says Dr Rekha.
The protesters were demanding compensation for several patients who had lost their eyesight following cataract surgeries in July this year.