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Resident doctors across India threaten shutdown of services after police ‘crackdown’ in Delhi

RDAs say the protest will continue until the Delhi Police apologises for its alleged crackdown on resident doctors Monday, and the counselling for NEET PG begins.

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New Delhi: Several resident doctors associations (RDAs) across the country threatened a shutdown of medical services starting Tuesday after doctors in the national capital were “brutally thrashed, dragged and detained” over protests against delay in postgraduate college allotments.

According to the RDAs, the protest will continue until the Delhi Police apologises for its alleged crackdown on the doctors Monday, and the counselling for NEET PG begins.

The move came after an alleged crackdown on doctors in Delhi during a face-off that resulted in injuries to resident doctors, who have been protesting against the delay in NEET PG counselling for weeks alongside their peers in other states. According to the police, its personnel also suffered injuries.

Doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital have been leading the doctors agitation in Delhi.

On Tuesday, several hospitals in the national capital shut down services completely due to the doctors’ strike. These include Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, GB Pant Hospital, Ambedkar Hospital and Lok Nayak Hospital.

“A meeting was conducted late Monday night by all the state RDA presidents and it was decided that the protest will continue. We want an apology from the Delhi Police and the rest will be decided later,” said Dr Ajay Singh, the vice-president of the RDA at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi.

On Monday, the RDA of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi issued a statement, declaring that the doctors will go on a strike and shut down all non-emergency related services from Wednesday if their demands are not met within 24 hours.

Jaipur’s RDA declared a two-hour strike between 9-11 am Tuesday.

The Aligarh Muslim University’s RDA released a statement condemning the police brutality, and calling it a “black day” in India’s democratic history. It added that the association will continue to not provide outpatient department (OPD) operations in protest.

The Maharashtra State Association of Resident Doctors too condemned the attack and issued a statement against the alleged brutality wherein two of its own representatives were detained by the police.

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What happened on Monday

The ongoing doctors protest in the national capital took an ugly turn Monday when medics and police personnel clashed on streets.

The police claimed that seven of its personnel were injured during the altercation while the associations alleged that over 100 protesting doctors were injured in the “brutal” lathicharge and 12 doctors were detained later at the Sarojini Police Station before being released.

Following this, doctors of the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) called upon over 5,000 resident doctors of Delhi to come out in protest and camp outside Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia’s residence.

“Our demands have changed now, we first want suspension of DCP Traffic Rohit Meena for brutally manhandling resident doctors and then we will demand for NEET PG Counseling. All the doctors of Delhi will be on the streets today. We have requested doctors in other states to come out in solidarity with us as well,” FORDA president Dr Manish Nigam told ThePrint Tuesday.

Why doctors are on protest

Doctors across several states and Union territories including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and Telangana have stopped OPD services since 29 November to protest against the delays in postgraduate admissions.

The NEET postgraduate entrance exam for 2021 was held in September last after being delayed twice. But admissions have yet to start.

This delay is due to the dispute over revising the income criteria for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota from the current upper limit of Rs 8 lakh a year.  The case is before the Supreme Court, which held hearings earlier this year. The next date of hearing is only in January 2022.

Meanwhile, the Centre has decided to constitute a committee to determine the EWS criteria, which will take four weeks to file a report. This will delay the process of counselling of postgraduate doctors by another month.

According to doctors, they are stressed and overworked in the absence of an entire batch.

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