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Quota: Medicos on hunger strike

Medicos have intensified their protest in the Capital and several cities by striking work and disrupting health services.

india Updated: May 14, 2006 16:15 IST

Medicos on Sunday intensified their anti-reservation protest in the national capital and several cities by striking work and disrupting services at state-run hospitals, causing hardship for thousands of patients.

Some 100 students and representatives of resident doctors of five premier medical colleges began an indefinite hunger strike at the prestigious All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Sunday morning.

The medicos disrupted normal and emergency services in some hospitals like RML Hospital. Official sources said emergency services in most hospitals were being run by senior doctors.

Union Health Secretary P Hota reviewed the situation in Delhi's hospitals at a high-level meeting and authorities were directed to maintain essential services.

The medicos also intensified protests at Amritsar in Punjab, Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Cuttuck, Burla and Berhampur in Orissa.

They struck work and forcibly closed out patient departments of government hospitals to protest the Centre's proposal to introduce a 27 per cent quota for OBCs in elite educational institutions.

Hundreds of patients and their relatives were seen desperately looking for help as authorities took steps to ensure essential services were maintained.

In Orissa, the government decided to re-deploy doctors from other districts to hospitals that were affected by the protests.

"We will continue our hunger strike and will not attend our duties," said Vinod Patro of the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association.

"We demand a total roll back of the proposal to give 27 per cent reservation to OBCs and a review of the present reservation policy," said Amitasha, a representative of students of Lady Hardinge Medical College.

"Yesterday's brutal police action on striking students in Mumbai forced us to call the indefinite hunger strike," she said.

Police in Mumbai had mercilessly beaten medicos when they blocked a busy road near the governor's residence on Saturday. The IMA has sought a judical probe into the incident.

Officials in Delhi said medical superintendents in all hospitals affected by the strike had been directed to maintain essential services.

"An emergency duty system has been created and senior doctors and specialists have been pressed into service," an official said. Hospitals had been directed not to turn back patients, he said.

In Amritsar, nearly 150 students of the Government Medical College went on a hunger strike and forcibly closed out patient departments of state-run hospitals.

Ankush Goel, president of the Amritsar Medical Students Association, said operation theaters of hospitals would be forced to close down from Monday.

Medical students of different colleges in Ahmedabad continued their indefinite strike. They said the strike that started on Saturday will continue till the government finds a long-term solution to the reservation issue.

First Published: May 14, 2006 09:38 IST