Over 600 healthcare workers in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh were lathi-charged and evicted from their protest site at Neelam Park on Thursday, 3 November. The healthcare workers have been protesting for the past three days against unemployment, and have demanded regularisation of jobs due to shortage of healthcare workers from the MP state government.
On Thursday, the police urged the demonstrators to vacate the park, but they refused to do so, claiming they would move only if they were granted a meeting with CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The police then resorted to lathi charge to forcefully evict the protesters, injuring many of them.
Amongst those injured were two pregnant women, and at least 15 health workers. Officials told The New Indian Express that around 400 workers were detained and FIRs were registered against 66 of them.
Yogesh Raghuvanshi, state general secretary of the Sangathan said, “On humanitarian grounds we should be appointed as we were hired against the vacancies”, reported The New Indian Express.
The state government hired 6,213 workers on a three-month contract to manage the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the country since March. The contract ended on 30 November, and soon after, a number of workers assembled under the COVID-19 Swasthya Sangathan in Madhya Pradesh and demanded that they be absorbed into their roles because the health crisis has worsened in the state, reported New Indian Express.
‘Health Workers Were Protesting Without Permission’: Bhopal ASP
Speaking about the incident, DIG Irshad Wali said workers didn’t have permission to organise the protest for even a single day, reported The New Indian Express.
Bhopal ASP Rajat Saklecha told India Today that the protesters were sitting in Neelam Park without permission.
"They were protesting for the past four days and had met the state health minister and MP. Their demands were forwarded to the CM. Still, they were protesting without permission. They were asked to vacate the venue after this, some of them tried to attack police and a cop was injured. Minimum force used for arrest," he said to India Today.
Meanwhile, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath condemned the violence on the healthcare workers on Twitter.
"The corona warriors, who have been risking their lives during this raging pandemic, were protesting over legitimate demands in Bhopal. Then, instead of ensuring justice for them, they were lathi-charged. Those who are entitled to respect are being treated like criminals?" wrote Nath on Twitter.
(With inputs from The New Indian Express and India Today)