Angry doctors protest at Azad Maidan; ask for antidote to assaults

Mar 18, 2017, 08:57 IST | Hemal Ashar

White coats in show of unity at Azad Maidan on Friday; unwilling to become soft targets of violence by relatives

Light the torch of defiance and agitation, said the docs. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Light the torch of defiance and agitation, said the docs. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and allied branches of medical colleges and associations proved there is unity in numbers at a protest yesterday at the Azad Maidan. The catalyst for this protest was a March 12 assault on Dr Rohan Mhamunkar, resident, Shree Bhausaheb Hire Medical College, who was brutally bashed by relatives of a patient.

Bouncers for doctors
Yesterday, though was for bashing inaction and continued assaults on doctors, with one doc saying, “It has reached such a stage that doctors will talk to patients, but we professionals will have to be accompanied by personal bouncers.”

Cries of “Hum sab ek hain....” rang out at the shamiana inside the SoBo Maidan. Dr A Pachnekar, chairman, IMA action committee anchored the meeting saying that Rohan had become symbolic of the violence being inflicted on docs on a regular basis.

Dr P Sanghvi said, “Is this boy (Rohan) alive or dead? Looking at how he got beaten it is virtually impossible to be alive. His family is so traumatised that they will not be sending this boy back to Dhule.”

He then asked rhetorically, “Do you want your son or daughter who is becoming a doctor to be humiliated?” The crowd shouted “Noooo.” Dr Sanghvi left the dais with question, “If this can happen in a Govt. hospital, what is the plight of the professionals in smaller nursing homes?”

The sentiment was that doctors have had enough and they should be allowed to practice in an atmosphere without fear. Defiance was evident as statements like, “we have lit the torch today at Azad Maidan, let it never go out,” by some doctors meant they hope to have signalled in the strongest terms that they will not take this any longer.

Mind is without fear...
Poetry and profundities mixed with anger. There was Dr V Pandit quoted Ravindranath Tagore and said they needed to work in an environment, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Violence against docs is not the way out. Soon society will see less and less docs as people will stop choosing this profession.”

Pachnekar introduced the next speaker, the dynamic, he said, Dr Nandita Palshetkar as a cheer went up. Palshetkar said that the assaults are a, “manifestation of the growing intolerance in society. Doctors are expected to turn the other cheek to thappads (slaps), they have become soft targets. We cannot become the villains all the time,” she finished.

For Dr Sunita M it was simple, “Rohan is the tip of the iceberg. Fear and risk taking cannot go hand in hand,” she said.

The pain is in the poetry...
Chants of “bandh karo bandh karo goonda giri band karo” rose up, as the morning inched closer to afternoon, and the mercury matched the heated tempers all around.

For Dr Anil H the punches rained on, “Rohan was like a punch on all of us, we all were assaulted.” He added, “I am a doctor, but I am a person first, with all the rights anybody else has.”

It was a morning of poetry and pain, anger and agitation as those that heal proved that sometimes, they hurt very badly too. The Govt and different arms now, need to address that with the efficacy we demand of these health professionals.

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