Twenty doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences went on an indefinite hunger strike on Friday. They were protesting against the Lok Sabha’s approval to the bill reserving 27 per cent seats for Other Backward Classes in centrally-aided institutions on Thursday.
Medical services, however, were not affected by the protest.
Resident doctors and students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University also supported the protest against the bill. Students of the Maulana Azad Medical College said they will join the AIIMS doctors in their hunger strike from Saturday.
“We will turn this into a nationwide agitation. Why are the politicians in such hurry, when the matter is sub-judice? Moreover, the bill does not consider the Moily committee recommendations on the creamy layer. We will fight it out in court, but for now, we have decided to continue our agitation,” said Dr Anil Sharma, spokesman, Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA), AIIMS.
Dr Shakti Gupta, AIIMS spokesman said, “OPD, Emergency Services, in-patient care and all other support services like laboratory, blood bank etc are functioning. Demonstrations, dharnas and rallies have been banned within the AIIMS campus.”
Resident doctors had struck work for 17 days in May after Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh proposed the 27 per cent reservation in institutes of higher education. Students had then rallied under the banner of ‘Youth for Equality’ and, after a clash with police, shut down hospital services. Resident doctors later called off the strike to avoid confrontation with the Supreme Court on May 31.
Students clarified that the hospital services would not be affected this time. “Keeping the patients in mind, we have decided not to stay away from work. Neither will AIIMS be the focus of the agitation this time. Those of us who are on fast will also be working,” said Kumar Harsh, RDA President, AIIMS.
Meanwhile, support also came from DU and JNU. Pardeep Singh, coordinator for Youth for equality at the JNU said, “We joined the striking doctors at AIIMS this morning to lend our support.”