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Students pin anti-quota hope on Sonia

india Updated: Aug 23, 2006 10:42 IST

Around 5,000 students and interns of medical colleges as well as Delhi University are to stage a protest march on Tuesday forenoon against the Government's decision to introduce a bill in Parliament for caste-based reservation in institutions of higher learning.

"We have no other option but to protest against the decision. The matter is before the court and the Government should not have thought of introducing the bill in Parliament in this session," said Jitendra Singla, resident doctors' association of the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC).

Resident doctors would however not take part in the protest because that would hamper medical facilities in hospitals, he said, although they stood by the other protesting doctors.

The central cabinet on Monday evening decided to introduce a bill in Parliament to provide 27 per cent reservation for candidates from the other backward classes (OBCs) in Government-aided institutes of higher education.

The bill, to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament that concludes on Friday, has angered sections of the student community again.

Singla said the students had earlier met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh but the meetings had not helped. They have now decided to meet United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi as only she can take some action against the Government's move.

"We have contacted several medical colleges and universities across the country and they would soon join the agitation. We hope to turn it into a nationwide agitation so that the Government will have to consider our demands," said Binod Patro, president of the resident doctors association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

He said the protest march would start from Jantar Mantar in the capital at 10:30 a.m. and the students would walk right up to the residence of Sonia Gandhi and would try to meet her.

"We were expecting that the Government would try to introduce the bill this session so all the doctors and students met earlier to decide on the course of action," said Singla.

A section of the students of Delhi's medical colleges and resident doctors, as well as their counterparts in many other cities, had in April-May gone on a strike paralysing the healthcare services in public hospitals after the Government announced its policy to enhance educational quotas.

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