Despite Health Minister’s Promises, Resident Doctors To Continue Protests

After the RDAs met on Tuesday evening, Dr Anuj Agarwal said that the agitation will continue on Wednesday.

6 min read

Following a day-long boycott of healthcare services by resident doctors from several major central and state-run government hospitals in Delhi and Health Minister Mandaviya's public statement in its aftermath, the Resident Doctors’ Associations (RDAs) have decided to continue their agitation.

The agitation is against the delay in NEET-PG counselling and Monday’s police crackdown on the doctors' protest.

During the protests, representatives of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya at the Nirman Bhavan in Delhi to discuss their demands.

After the meeting, Health Minister Mandaviya had said:

"We're not able to do the counselling because the matter is sub-judice before Supreme Court. The hearing will take place on 6 January. I hope that NEET-PG counselling will start soon."

Further, Mandaviya urged protesting resident doctors to call off their strike in "public interest" and added that "if there was misbehaviour from the side of the police, then I apologise."

Police Action Not Consistent With the Promises Of Health Minister

Following Mandaviya's statement, FORDA president Dr Manish Kumar said: "The strike is still underway. We demand a written apology for police brutality during yesterday's protest of resident doctors at ITO."

He also announced that a meeting with all RDAs will be held at 8.30 pm to decide the future course of action.

After the RDAs met, FORDA secretary Dr Anuj Agarwal, told The Quint that the agitation will continue with the same intensity on Wednesday, 29 December.

He stated that the Health Minister had assured two things:

  • "He said they will submit the pending report before 6 January in the Supreme Court and will try to get counselling done at the earliest."

  • "Secondly, they condemn the action of police on doctors."

However, Dr Agarwal explained:

"In the same evening we are seeing that the police is posing allegations on doctors that doctors misbehaved with policemen, however the videos depict opposite pictures of policemen thrashing female doctors on road! Secondly, police is filing multiple FIRs on doctors..its highly digraceful."

Further, Agarwal added that "it was only yesterday when the police beat doctors openly and snatched their phones and today instead of apologising they are filing FIRs against doctors."

So far, only Residents Doctor Association (RDA), AIIMS have called off their strike, saying that their demands have been met.


Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, strongly condemning the police action and asking the central government to accept the protesting doctors' demands.

The resident doctors have been protesting against the delay in NEET-PG (The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Postgraduate) 2021 counselling for the past few weeks, as the deferment of the admission process for a fresh batch of doctors has led to an increase in the workload.

Patients and their families bear the brunt of the doctors' strike, as healthcare services at Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Lady Harding Hospital, Lok Nayak Hospital, Ambedkar Hospital, GB Pant Hospital, GTB Hospital, Swami Dayanand Hospital, and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, remain affected.

After the RDAs met on Tuesday evening, Dr Anuj Agarwal said that the agitation will continue on Wednesday.

Resident doctors protest against the delay in NEET-PG counselling on Tuesday, 28 December.

(Photo: Eshwar Ranjana/The Quint)

After the RDAs met on Tuesday evening, Dr Anuj Agarwal said that the agitation will continue on Wednesday.

Heavy police deployment at Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday, 28 December.

(Photo: Eshwar Ranjana/The Quint)

The shutdown, called by the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), came a day after the Delhi Police had detained and manhandled resident doctors protesting in the national capital.

'We Are Not Machines'

Speaking to The Quint, Gynaecologist Lovely Singh from Safdarjung Hospital said, "We are already short of doctors, and from March onwards, it will become more acute. What does the government think? We are machines or what? Are we not supposed to care about our own health, our own sleep or anything? We will just die working."

"If there are fewer doctors than needed for the number of patients in the hospital, obviously, there will be mismanagement. Who will be blamed then? The doctors."
Mahesh Mahajan, Resident Doctor at the Neurosurgery Department of GB Pant Hospital

"More than 40,000 potential resident doctors are sitting at home, because this counselling is not being carried out. That is a huge manpower that is sitting at home. These people should be mobilised as early as possible and should get to work. This will be helpful for the healthcare system. Right now, the shortage is affecting the health system in the worst manner (sic)," Dr Prashant, a neurologist at GB Pant Hospital, told The Quint.

Dr Aarti Parashay, from the radio-diagnosis department at GB Pant Hospital said, "We don’t know when the counselling will finally take place. We will again have to face the burden. We’re not running away from work. COVID is right around the corner. The government has to understand that if there are more doctors there will be better handling.”

Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, United Sikhs NGO showed up at Safdarjung Hospital, the site of the protest, to give out free parathas and tea to all doctors.

Pritam Singh of the United Sikhs NGO told The Quint, "We provide food, water and other basic necessities wherever there are protests. We also provide free ambulance service."


AIIMS Doctors Joined Protest After FORDA's Call for 'Shutdown'

The Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Delhi, on Monday night, had sought a report on the government's plans to expedite NEET-PG counselling, and an apology for the police action against doctors.

In a letter addressed to Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, the AIIMS RDA had warned, "If no adequate response from the government is received within 24 hours, AIIMS RDA will proceed with a token strike from 29/11/2021, including shutdown of all non-emergency services."

The Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) had also responded to FORDA's call, and had announced a nationwide withdrawal from all healthcare services, beginning 8 am on Wednesday, 29 December.
However, on Tuesday, after calling off the strike, RDA AIIMS said in a press release that since the Health Minister has assured that NEET-PG counselling will be held at the earliest and also reproached the manhandling of resident doctors by Delhi police, the strike has been called off.

They added, “the RDA continues to support the cause of the protesting doctors and will act with haste in this regard if the authorities do not stick to their promise.”


‘Thrashed, Dragged, and Detained’: Police Action on Protesting Doctors

Protesting against the delays in NEET-PG counselling, resident doctors' protest march towards the Supreme Court from Maulana Azad Medical College on Monday was halted near the ITO Post Office in Delhi.

The FORDA has claimed that doctors who were peacefully protesting were brutally thrashed, dragged, and detained by Delhi Police personnel, and labelled the event as a "Black day in the history of the medical fraternity".

Dr Anuj Agarwal, resident doctor of Safdarjung Hospital, told The Quint:

"We were peacefully carrying out our protest for a month and seven days in front of Nirman Bhawan. We have always stood by law and order with utmost respect, but the verbal abuses and physical violence by male policemen on female resident doctors on the road is extremely shameful and can't be expressed in words. Not only ruthless and barbaric, it's of utter shame and disgrace! Police snatching phones of doctors, dragging them by touching female doctors inappropriately is unexplainable in words! This is the respect for COVID warriors! Great."

On Monday evening, hundreds of doctors were detained while marching towards Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya's residence, and were taken to the Sarojini Nagar police station. They were released a little before midnight.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has lodged an FIR on the charges of rioting, causing obstruction in duty of police personnel, and damaging public property, against the doctors.

On Tuesday evening, Suman Goyal, Additional Commissioner, Central Range, said, "The doctors claimed mishandling and use of force, I'd like to clarify that no force/lathi charge was used. Delhi Police have the highest regard for doctors. Few policemen got injured, some police vehicles were also damaged."

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Topics:  Delhi   Protest   Doctors Protest 

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