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AIIMS Director Venugopal ousted; faculty voices dissent over removal

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, July 5 (UNI) The government today summarily dismissed AIIMS Director P Venugopal for 'violating the code of conduct', giving a new twist to his running feud with Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss over the prolonged strike by medicos in May on the reservation issue.

The decision to sack the illustrious cardiac surgeon drew sharp protests from the AIIMS faculty, IMA as well as the Left parties and the Opposition BJP.

It came after over a three-hour emergency meeting of the AIIMS governing body, presided over by Dr Ramadoss, which passed a resolution for Dr Venugopal's removal.

BJP leader V K Malhotra, a member of the institute's body, who attended the meeting, told reporters that a majority of the 17 members at the meeting, opposed the move to dismiss Dr Venugopal, which was done without following any norms and procedures.

''The issue was not listed in the main agenda but at the end of the meeting, Dr Ramadoss brought a supplementary agenda to dismiss the AIIMS Director for violating the code of conduct. Though most of the members opposed the move to dismiss Mr Venugopal without following the procedure and without giving him opportunity to explain the dissent of only three was noted,'' he added.

''It is a black day, the saddest day for the democracy. One by one the government is destroying all the autonomous institutions.

This is a draconian decision and even in dictatorship or during the emergency, this had not happened,'' he said.

However, the Health Minister refused to comment on the decision.

''Today the Institute's governing body met and went through the agenda and also gave its recommendations to the Government of India... what the recommendations are is privileged information and I cannot reveal it.'' A dejected Dr Venugopal, who was seen going out Nirman Bhavan with the support of three people, refused to comment on the developments.

Dr Venugopal has been associated with AIIMS for 48 years. He performed the first heart transplant in India in 1994.

Meanwhile, Dr Venugopal's ouster evoked strong protests by the institute's faculty and students as well as the Indian Medical Association. While the faculty and students went on strike and the emergency and casualty departments were shut down, IMA described the move as ''shocking and shameful'' and sought the intervention of the President and the Prime Minister to save the premier institute and revoke the decision.

'' We have declared a strike. Resident doctors, students, scientists and faculty members have all gone on strike to protest the decision,'' Dr Binod Patra, a representative of the AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association, told UNI.

He said the stike will continue till Dr Venugopal is reinstated.

The members of the Faculty Association will hold a candlelight march in AIIMS tonight.

The sacking of Dr Venugopal triggered a series of angry reactions from the Left parties also.

They sought UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's intervention to stop the trend, saying they did not approve of the sacking of Dr Venugopal.

Leaders of the CPI, RSP and Forward bloc said this was not a way to treat a prestigious instituion like AIIMS.

In a related development, the Delhi High Court today issued notices to AIIMS and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asking them to respond to a writ petition within four weeks which seeks to quash the present governing body of the AIIMS.

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