Doctors call off strike after KRV activists surrender

The OPD at Ramaiah hospital wears a deserted look on Friday. DH PHOTO/JANARDHAN B K

Doctors called off their week-long strike on Friday after 12 activists of a pro-Kannada organisation, who had allegedly assaulted a medico last week, surrendered themselves before the cops. 

A day after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) announced a statewide call to shut outpatient departments in private hospitals, Ashwini Gowda and 11 other activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) turned themselves in at the Jayanagar office of Rohini Katoch Sepat, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South).

The suspects were taken into custody and subjected to medical tests at the Victoria Hospital before being produced before a magistrate which granted them bail in the evening, said K Shivashankar, inspector, VV Puram police station. 

The activists had planned to meet the police commissioner before the surrender but the latter asked them to approach the DCP (South). 

The VV Puram police booked them all under IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 341 (wrongful restraint), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty). 

The activists are accused of “abusing and assaulting” a resident doctor from Kerala after she responded to them in English at the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital on November 1. Since the day is celebrated as Kannada Rajyotsava, the activists demanded that she speak the language or else call her superior. They allegedly assaulted her when she refused to toe their line. 

Dr H S Sathish, the dean-cum-director of the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMRCI), lodged a police complaint about the matter last week. 

KRV chief Narayana Gowda said the members of the organisation decided to surrender as the doctors’ strike was affecting patients across Karnataka. “We are ready to face legal action and will cooperate in the investigation,” he added. 

But confusion reigned for hours before the KRV activists surrendered. Outpatient services at Victoria Hospital were restored only around 11.30 am. Things weren’t different in private hospitals either as outpatients had to wait for hours. “It took us some time to resolve the issue. Patients were sent back in the morning and asked to come in the evening,” said Dr Srinivas S, state secretary, IMA. 

The decision to call off the strike was announced at 3 pm after a meeting between officials of the BMRCI and the Department of Medical Education. Doctors were relieved and distributed sweets. 

L N Reddy, president, Junior Doctors’ Association, said they were calling off the protest as the government “promised to address our demands”. 

For the safety of on-duty doctors, a panic button will be installed in the OPD of all BMCRI hospitals. If attacked, doctors can press the button and help would arrive immediately, said Dr C R Jayanthi, Principal, BMCRI. She also announced constituting internal risk and legal teams. 

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