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Rajasthan doctors go ‘underground’ as government starts crackdown and arrests 52

The in-service doctors had threatened to go on mass leave demanding that 12 doctors who had been transferred following last month’s strike be reinstated.

jaipur Updated: Dec 16, 2017 20:59 IST
HT Corresopndent
HT Corresopndent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Doctors strike,Rajasthan news,Doctors arrested
Doctors’ chamber lying vacant at Kanwatia Hospital in Jaipur on Saturday.(Prabhakar Sharma/ HT Photo)

Fifty-two doctors were arrested in Rajasthan Saturday as the state government cracked down on in-service doctors who have threatened to go on indefinite mass leave beginning Monday.

Health services across the state, especially in rural areas, remained affected as several doctors left their posts as government launched operations late Friday night under Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act (RESMA), 1970.

The doctors had threatened to go on mass leave demanding that 12 doctors who had been transferred following last month’s strike be reinstated. Following a week-long strike from November 6 to 12, the government had signed an agreement with the All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association (ARISDA) accepting the latter’s 33 demands.

ARISDA president Dr Ajay Choudhary and general secretary Dr Durgashankar Saini said that on November 28, the government transferred 12 doctors. Following this, the in-service doctors launched a protest beginning December 1 and started attending the patients under the tents outside the health facilities.

The ARISDA officials said that now their demands are to cancel the transfer orders; to approve the period they were on strike as leave so that they could get the salary of November month; and to appoint a doctor instead of a Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officer on the post of additional director (gazetted). They are also demanding that as per the government’s assurance, the cases and other action initiated during the period of agitation should be withdrawn. They also want the government to withdraw the charge-sheets issued against the doctors who had boycotted meeting and training programmes during the “non-cooperation movement”.

Patients wait for their turn at Kanwatia Hospital on Saturday. (Prabhakar Sharma/HT Photo)

State health minister Kali Charan Saraf, however, said the arrests of in-service doctors will continue till they call off their proposed strike from Monday (December 18).

“Doctors in state want to get their demands fulfilled on the gun point but government will not succumb to them,” he said.

Saraf said that on November 12, the government had agreed to their 33 demands, most of which have been implemented, while few were in the process to be implemented.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) NRK Reddy confirmed that that “52 in-service doctors have been arrested across the state from Friday night till now.”

The ARISDA officials, however claim accused the government of “provoking them”.

“We have sought time from the chief minister to apprise her about our demands and problems, but the government has started arresting the doctors. We gave time till December 18 so that talks can be held even as were serving the patients so that they do not face any problem. But government has provoked us to take extreme step. The government should stop this,” ARISDA president said.

According to reports, police arrested three doctors from their residences late Friday night in Bharatpur. They have been booked under RESMA. Drs Kaptan Singh, Mukesh Vashistha, Manish Goyal were arrested under section 151 of CrPC but released on bail after being produced them before city magistrate on Saturday.

A group of doctors reached Mathura Gate police station Saturday morning and assured the city circle officer, Avad Dan Ratnoo, that they won’t go on strike. Ratnoo said the delegation gave it in writing. “Police will not conduct raids against them but action will be taken if they join the strike,” the CO said.

Five doctors were arrested in different part of Hadauti region. They include, Bundi district ARISDA president Dr Kalp Shandilya.

Similarly, Kota police arrested Drs Manish Arora and Kuldeep Rana Saturday and conducted raids at the residences of some office bearers of ARISDA. Dr Mrityunjay from Bakani region of Jhalawar district was also arrested.

ARISDA general secretary, who hails from Kota, went underground following police raids. He left a video message on social media in which he equated the state government’s rule with British era and accused it of imposing undeclared emergency in Rajasthan.

Three doctors, including Ajmer district ARISDA president, were arrested from Kishangarh.

Earlier, Barmer police Friday night arrested three doctors. City police station in-charge Amar Singh said the doctors have been booked under IPC’s Section 151. On getting the news, several doctors, including chief medical and health officer and principal medical officer, gathered outside the police station and protested. Police on Saturday produced the doctors before the magistrate from where they were released on bail.

Dr Kamlesh Choudhary, chief medical and health officer, said protesting against the way police arrested the doctors while they were on duty, doctors in rural areas boycotted the duty on Saturday.

JARD extends support, warns of indefinite stir

The Jaipur Association of Resident Doctors (JARD) Saturday extended support to the in-service doctors and threatened to go on indefinite strike from Monday, if suppressive action against doctors was not stopped.

JARD president Dr Ravi Jhakar said on November 12, government had verbal agreement over the demands of resident doctors, but now instead of implementing the demands, the government has started arresting the doctors. “If the government does not withdraw the suppressive action taken against the in-service doctors in next 24 hours and does not issue order to implement the resident doctors’ demands then all resident doctors will go on indefinite work boycott from Monday,” he said.

Resident doctors of Kota government hospital also warned of joining the strike.

Meanwhile, in Jaisalmer, three doctors — B K Barupal, BL Bunkar, and Murlidhar Soni — were arrested Friday night and presented before the sub divisional magistrate on Saturday, who sent them to jail. The other government doctors, protesting against this, staged a dharna outside the police station.

(With inputs from Kota, Bharatpur, Barmer and Ajmer)

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 20:59 IST