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Medicos reject Arjun's invite, want to meet PM

Striking medical students said that they have lost faith in the HRD Minister.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 21:31 IST

Striking medical students on Monday rejected HRD Minister Arjun Singh's invitation for talks on reservation, saying they have lost "faith" in him and now want to meet the Prime Minister to resolve the issue.

"He (Singh) had assured us that he would hold talks with us before referring the Bill on reservation to the Union Cabinet. But he did not do that and we now have no faith in him," Safal, a representative of the Youth for Equality, said.

The students, who began an indefinite hunger strike on Sunday, said they want to talk only to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, which has brought them on a collision course with the government.

Their strident posture comes in the wake of Singh's statement that he was ready to hold talks with the students protesting against the proposed reservations for OBCs in elite educational institutions, if they are willing to come forward for discussions.

The Human Resources Minister had earlier told the students that he personally had no problems discussing the issue with them before the Bill was taken up by Parliament, but he would consult the Prime Minister before holding any such meeting with them.

Arjun ready for talks

The anti-reservation agitation by medical students spread to different parts of the country on Monday with private doctors also joining the IMA-called nationwide strike, crippling basic health services for the second straight day.

As the agitation gathered steam, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said he is ready to hold discussions on the issue with the striking students if they come forward for talks.

Thousands of medical students boycotted classes while government and private doctors struck work in hospitals in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and New Delhi, where a mass indefinite hunger strike by students of five premier medical colleges continued.

Normal and emergency services were affected in several hospitals in the national capital due to the strike with private hospitals also announcing closure of OPD services in support of the strike.

The striking resident doctors said they are running parellel OPDs in hospitals to "ensure that patients are not deprived of basic facilities and to minimise problems caused by the one-day strike."

Hundreds of patients and their relatives were seen looking for help in various hospitals across the capital.

However, authorities claimed they have initiated steps to ensure that essential services were maintained.

At least 150 students of five medical colleges of Delhi and some adjoining colleges, under the 'Youth For Equality' banner, continued their indefinite hunger strike at the premier healthcare institute AIIMS demanding immediate rollback of the controversial proposals.

With the strike spreading fast, the Centre today held an emergency meeting of Home and Health Ministry officials and representatives of Delhi government and police on the issue.

A woman medical student from Lady Hardinge Medical College, who was on hunger strike at AIIMS, was admitted to hospital emergency ward after she collapsed apparently because of dehyderation. Her identity was not immediately disclosed.

Doctors from across the capital also held a demonstration at Rajghat demanding withdrawal of the proposals and action against police who had baton-charged striking students in Mumbai on Saturday.

Medical students in Gujarat, who are on an indefinite strike since Saturday, took to the streets, while their counterparts in government-run medical colleges in Bangalore boycotted classes.

In Mumbai, where striking medicos were baton-charged on Saturday, students, doctors and consultants will take out a demonstration to the state secretariat demanding judicial probe into the police action.

Emergency medical services were partially affected in government hospitals across Punjab and Chandigarh as junior and senior resident doctors, medical students and paramedical staff stayed away from work.

Addressing a protest demonstration at Rajghat, Indian Medical Association President Sanjeev Malik criticised the political parties for not extending support to the agitation waged by medical students and doctors.

"It is a spontaneous movement that has come straight from the heart. The Government wants to suppress it," he said and demanded withdrawal of the proposal for introduction of reservation for OBCs in elite educational institutions.

He also demanded a review of the reservation policy. "A new reservation policy should be put in place which should be on the basis of the economic status of the students."

Malik claimed that the one-day medical strike was a total success. "The strike is total.

However, we have kept emergency and critical services out of the purview of the strike," he added.

He said parellel OPD services were opearting in hospitals in the capital so that patients from outside Delhi do not return disappointed.

IMA General Secretary Vinay Aggarwal demanded an immediate solution to the problem. "Let us not allow the fire spread and lead to a Mandal II," he said.

Both Malik and Aggarwal criticised the Mumbai Police and its chief AN Roy for "beating up" medical students on Saturday.