It wasn't Sholay, but close enough. Veeru perched atop a water tank was played by three young nurses on the roof of a seven-storey hospital. The suicide threats were sent on cellphone and the entire state turned into Ramgarh.
Sadly, unlike Sholay's Veeru, the nurses were not on a romantic mission. All they wanted was a pay hike. But that in no way detracted from Wednesday’s drama. At 8 am, when the trio climbed the roof of Mar Baselois Medical Mission Hospital at Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district and locked themselves in, people took it for a stunt. But as the hours passed and the queue of fire brigades and TV cameras grew longer, they found they were mistaken.
The text of the protest was not lost on anyone. After all, the nurses had been on strike for 114 days. “For 12-hour shifts a day, we are getting around Rs. 3,000 a month,” said their spokesperson.
The locals showed solidarity by brickbatting the hospital. The police did their bit with a lathicharge.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan talked to the nurses’ representative and called up chief minister Oommen Chandy.
A deal was brokered and the hospital announced that the demands would be met. The protest was called off.
But then came the twist in the tale. As soon as the protesters left, the hospital reneged on the deal. The strike was resumed. Post script: The administration is yet to station security at nearby tall buildings.