The apex decision-making body of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Wednesday sacked its director P Venugopal following which faculties and resident doctors struck work as a mark of protest thus severely affecting emergency services in India's premier hospital.
"Both the emergency and casualty services have stopped functioning and no new patients are being admitted to the hospital after the decision (to sack Venugopal) was taken. Hundreds of resident doctors and students have called for a strike," said Binod Patra, president of the AIIMS resident doctors association.
"This is a case of autocracy on the part of the health minister (Anbumani Ramadoss) and we will continue to protest till Venugopal is reinstated," Patra said, adding they have started referring patients to the nearby Safdarjung Hospital.
"We have two demands - immediate reinstatement of Venugopal as director and removal of the health minister Ramadoss," Anil Sharma, another resident doctor, told reporters.
The decision to oust Venugopal came after three-hour meeting chaired by Ramadoss passed the resolution to remove the director for "violating the code of conduct".
Authorities said the decision would be referred to the government that has the power to either accept or reject the resolution to remove Venugopal.
AIIMS is the most prestigious medical institute of the country that treats over 8,000 patients on any given day.
"We have given a recommendation to the government of India. I don't think I can divulge any details at this point of time," said Ramadoss after the meeting.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP VK Malhotra, who is a member of the institute's governing body, said the decision was not unanimous and the issue was discussed even though it was not listed in the agenda.
"It's a black day. One by one they are destroying all autonomous institutions. This is a draconian decision and we condemn it," said Malhotra.
Meanwhile, hundreds of senior faculty members, resident doctors and students close to Venugopal are holding an emergency meeting at AIIMS to decide the future course of action.
"It's a shocking news and we are holding an emergency meeting to decide the future course of action," said KK Handa, general secretary AIIMS faculty association.
Venugopal had a public spat with Ramadoss, the president of the institute, last month after AIIMS became the epicentre of the anti-quota protest.
While Ramadoss, alleged that "some people" have turned the country's leading medical institute into a "political hub" and warned of action against them, Venugopal accused the minister of curtailing the institute's autonomy.
Many faculty members allege the government was targeting the AIIMS for being at the centre of the protest by resident doctors and medical students against the government's move to increase caste-based quotas in central institutions of higher education.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday criticised the government for denying salaries to the medicos for the period they were on strike and asked it to be a "model employer".