Doctors face off with cops in Delhi over delay in NEET-PG 2021 counselling
Police talk to protesting doctors outside the Maulana Azad Medical College during the course of the latter's protest over postponement of National Eligibility Entrance Test postgraduate (NEET PG) counselling 2021. Photo: PTI

Doctors face off with cops in Delhi over delay in NEET-PG 2021 counselling

The protest by resident doctors in Delhi over the delay in NEET-PG 2021 counselling on Monday took a dramatic turn, as medics and police personnel faced off in streets, with both sides claiming to have sustained injuries in the ensuing melee.

The stir looked to be the culmination of ongoing protests in various parts of the country and in state capitals over the same issue.

The stir, led by the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association, has been going on for several days, and FORDA also said that several of its members were “detained” when they tried to hold a protest march from Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) to Supreme Court.

FORDA president Manish claimed that resident doctors of a large number of major hospitals on Monday “returned their apron (lab coat) in a symbolic gesture of rejection of services.”

“We also tried to march from the campus of the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) to Supreme Court, but soon after we had started it, security personnel did not allow us to proceed,” he said.

Manish also alleged that several doctors were “detained” by the police by force, and taken to police station premises, before being released after some time. He also alleged that “force was used and many doctors were injured” during their dramatic face-off.

However, the police denied allegations of lathicharge or use of abusive language from their end, and said, 12 protestors were detained and released later.

In a statement issued later, FORDA said it was a “black day in the history of the medical fraternity.”

“Resident doctors, the so-called Corona Warriors, protesting peacefully to expedite NEET PG Counselling 2021 were brutally thrashed, dragged and detained by the police,” it alleged “There will be complete shutdown of all healthcare institutions from today onwards,” the statement said.

In an official statement issued later, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Rohit Meena said, on Monday, a group of resident doctors “without having any authorised permission” blocked the BSZ Marg, main road between ITO and Delhi gate, and jammed the traffic for more than six hours.”

“They deliberately created nuisance on the main road and blocked both carriageways, causing hardship and harassment to commuters and general public,” he claimed in the statement.

Subsequently, they were “addressed by DG Health” who gave them the assurance of fulfilling their demands, the senior police officer was quoted as saying in the statement.

However, they became “aggressive and even after pacifying them, they blocked the road,” he claimed.

“After requesting them again to leave the road, they became aggressive and manhandled our personnel when efforts were made to detain them lawfully. Seven police personnel got injured while detaining them. They also broke the glass of police bus,” he alleged.

FIR has been registered under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code for COVID violations, rioting and damage to public property among others, the police said.

Later in the night, a large number of resident doctors gathered outside the Sarojini Nagar police station. But, no one has been detained as of now, the police said.

However, doctors claimed that a large number of protestors were detained by police when they tried to march from Safdarjung Hospital to the official residence of Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. “They are protesting and we are facilitating their protest… they are on a sit-in here. Let them first settle down and then we will initiate talks with them. Its likely that any immediate meeting could be arranged with officials concerned at night but we are trying are best to sort it out,” a senior police officer from southwest district of the Delhi Police said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Gaurav Sharma said that “Doctors were protesting and they were reconciled through negotiations. They were peacefully handled and sent back to their hostels.” In a video released by FORDA, a group of protestors can be seen singing the national anthem outside a police station, while one doctor can be seen telling a group that they should prepare to camp there all night to protest.

Later, a resident doctor said, after all detained doctors been released, “injured will go to hospitals, and rest all will be heading back, to regroup again tomorrow.” Senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also shared video clip of the face-off between the doctors and police personnel, and extended support to protesting resident doctors. As the protest continued on Monday, patient care remained affected at three Centre-run facilities — Safdarjung, RML and Lady Hardinge hospitals — and some of the Delhi government-run hospitals.

Last Tuesday, a group of doctors had thrown flowers on security barricades, and clanged utensils and clapped in front of the Nirman Bhawan here, saying they were symbolically “returning” the adulation showered on them for being COVID warriors.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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