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Could the Bengaluru doctors’ strike go national?

Copyright: niyazz / 123RF Stock PhotoThe Bengaluru doctors’ strike over an assault on two of their colleagues could mushroom into a national movement. 

Allegedly, two resident doctors at Minto Hospital were “manhandled” by members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), a pro-Kannada organisation. The dispute originated from a demand for compensation for patients at a camp for the treatment of cataracts, which allegedly left them blind. When a doctor refused to converse in Kannada, they were allegedly assaulted as was another medico who was recording the incident on video. 

Violence against doctors is a national issue. 75 percent of doctors in India have been the victim of harassment, intimidation, or violence in the workplace according to the Indian Medical Association (IMA). 

This triggered the indefinite agitation by the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) Resident Doctors’ Association, which is ongoing at the time of writing. The Bengaluru doctors’ strike doctors has paralysed outpatient services and forced patients to go without treatment. State Medical Education Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan has met with protesters and urged them to withdraw their strike, stating demands for enhanced security will be considered. 

The police have commenced an investigation into the assault, commenting “the charges are made directly against KRV activists. We will go by the contents of the FIR and collect evidence. We are also recording statements of doctors, who were victims of assault. Subsequently, action will be taken against the culprits. We will not hesitate to take action against KRV.” 

The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association have threatened a national stir if there is no justice for the doctors in the Karnataka Hospital. “It is beyond understanding why the administration keeps the security of doctors on such a low priority,” the Federation wrote to the Union Health Ministry. “If the accused are not arrested and action not taken, we will be forced to agitate in solidarity with our brethren from Karnataka.” Similarly, the Karnataka chapter of the IMA has threatened to shut down outpatient departments statewide if there is no justice for the doctors assaulted. 

KRV staged a protest on Tuesday against the doctors, alleging their actions are a breach of ethics and neglect of their duty.

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