Doctors turn cobblers, heard it ever. If not, come to Srinagar and just see how a group of degree holders in Electropathic medicine has resorted to boot polishing in protest against what they allege government’s apathy towards them. This group of unemployed medicos has been on hunger strike at the Pratap Park Press Enclave for the past 15 days. Not a single official has visited them so far. Driven by frustration, some of the doctors have resorted to boot polishing to invite the attention of the government. Wearing white aprons, with stethoscopes around their necks, their “new-sought” profession is capturing the sight of every passerby.
“Government is insensitive towards our problem. We will try everything to mould its attention”, says Dr Ashfaq Ahmad, who presides over around 300 doctors gathered under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Electropathic Doctors Association. A group of these doctors occupied footpath on Residency Road, last Sunday, and sold used cloths.
These protesting medicos say that if the government continued with its apathy they would resort to extreme means like self-immolation and hunger-strike till death. One of them Sajjad Ahmad has already been on indefinite hunger strike for the past three days. “I will break my fast only after government agrees to provide us jobs. Otherwise there is no point to live”, he says in a meek voice. “I have got the degree in 1997. I am wandering for the job since then. Nobody takes us seriously. We are left with no other choice but to end our lives”, says another medico Javaid Ahmad.
But the state government appears little concerned. The authorities say that absorbing these doctors is impossible as electropathy is not a part of Indian System of Medicine (ISM). “Theirs’ is a very complicated case. We had taken up it with the central government. But the Central Council of Homeopathy said in no uncertain terms that Electropathy is not Indian system of medicine”, says Health Commissioner K B Jindial. “The Council has identified AYUSH—Aruvedic, Yoga, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy—as the only systems of Indian medicines”, adds Jindial. He says that a committee of experts, constituted at the directions of Delhi High Court too did not consider Electropathy as a part of Indian System of Medicine.
The protesting doctors question that if Electropathy is not a part of ISM then how the colleges of this branch of medicine are allowed to run. They say that dozens of Electropathy colleges are functioning in several cities across the country including one in Jammu. They also say that state government, on January 19, 2007, issued a notice (PS/Secty/Gen/HME-01/2007) asking unemployed qualified ISM doctors including Electropathy degree holders to register themselves with the government to ascertain the actual number of qualified doctors. “How they (authorities) tell us now that Electropathy is not a part of ISM”, questions Dr Shabnum. The health commissioner admits that such notice was issued “but what can we do when this discipline falls out of ISM”.