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Battlelines harden

A DAY after medicos ignored its appeal to call off their strike, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered them to resume work in the ?larger public interest? or else face action. But the doctors refused to end their strike. Around midnight, police and RAF personnel entered the AIIMS campus ? the hub of the protests ? and pulled down the protesters? tents.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 14:21 IST

A DAY after medicos ignored its appeal to call off their strike, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered them to resume work in the “larger public interest” or else face action. But the doctors refused to end their strike. Around midnight, police and RAF personnel entered the AIIMS campus — the hub of the protests — and pulled down the protesters’ tents.

Earlier, the doctors said they would not call off their strike as the court order was “not binding” on them. In fact, the Delhi Medical Association (DMA) has called for a bandh on Wednesday in support of the students’ demand for a rollback of the OBC quota proposal and against the government’s “unaccommodating" stand on the issue.

DMA president Dr K.K. Kapur said OPDs in private hospitals would remain closed. "We've got confirmation from major organisations like Escorts, Apollo, Max and Ganga Ram. Private practitioners too won’t work,” he said.

In the court, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat reminded the doctors of at least two of its earlier judgments which make agitation on any matter pending before the court tantamount to contempt.

Acting on its own, the court said it was disappointed that the doctors had ignored its appeal. “Ultimately, the people are getting affected,” it said. “…In view of the fact that reservation for OBCs is being examined by this court, the protest strikes relating to the issue should be called off.” The court directed the government to submit a report on the status of the strike on Thursday.

After the order, the students consulted legal experts. A member of Youth for Equality, Safal, said: “Officially, we haven’t received the order, though we managed a photocopy of it. It doesn’t say anything on contempt proceedings. We respect the court’s observation but lawyers have told us it is not binding on us.”

First Published: May 31, 2006 14:21 IST