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AIIMS Doctors call off three-day strike; Services resume

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, July 7 (UNI) AIIMS doctors and medical students tonight called off their three-day strike, held in protest against dismissal of Director P Venugopal, following the High Court's stay on the controversial decision.

The decision was taken at the General Body Meeting of the members of AIIMS Faculty Association, Residents doctors and medical students after ''studying the court order in detail''.

''In the interest of patients we are calling off the strike...

medical services will resume in AIIMS,'' AIIMS Students'union leader Sasmit Sarangi said.

Services in the casualty ward have started with immediate effect.

Welcoming the court order, he said it is the victory of truth.

''We stand vindicated.... Dr Venugopal is back and this is a welcome step,'' he added.

Coming down heavily on the Union Health Minister, he said Dr Anbumani Ramadoss' ''autocratic functioning'' will not be accpeted.

Earlier, four medicos, who were on an indefinite hunger strike since yesterday, broke the fast. They accepted juice from family members of some patients.

Medical services, which were crippled since Wednesday, will resume from tonight, he added. Even the emergency and casualty were shut down, causing hardships to patients. They were either asked to return or go to alternative institutes.

Two patients-- Sarvesh Kumar and Ramjeet-- had allegedly died due to lack of treatment since Wednesday.

AIIMS Faculty Association vice president Dr Vinod Khaitan, Resident Doctors' Association president Dr Binod Patra, Students' Union member Anamaya Sharma and Young Scientists' Association president R Prabhu began the hunger strike yesterday morning.

The striking doctors and students were demanding immediate reinstatement of Dr Venugopal, no dilution of AIIMS autonomy and resignation of Dr Ramadoss.

Dr Venugopal was dismissed on Wednesday by the Institute Governing Body, headed by Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, for violating the code of conduct of the premier institute.

As soon as the order came jubilant scenes broke out in AIIMS, with the striking doctors distributing sweets and hailing the order.

''This is the victory of truth.... We stand vindicated and the Health Minister must resign now,'' said a senior Faculty Association Member.

Meanwhile, the medicos have filed an FIR against the police for its ''high handed attitude and use of force on the agitating doctors, including women''.

The doctors claimed that police forcefully tried to evict them from the AIIMS premises and even acted in a ''high-handed manner '' with the protestors, including women.

They also claimed that police tried to stop them from setting up the parallel OPDs this morning.

AIIMS RDA member Kumar Harsh alleged that police was working at the behest of Union Health Secretary P K Hota.

''It has come to our knowledge that Mr Hota is managing the police.... we condemn this attitude of the police,'' he added.

''This is the proof that the administration under Dr Ramadoss in AIIMS has collapsed. The Health Minister wants to make it the Anbumani Institute of Medical Sciences but we will not let him,'' Dr Binod Patra said.

The Health Minister and the AIIMS Director were on a war path for some time.

The Health Minister had accused the AIIMS administration of ''not performing its duties'' during the past two years.

As the President of the Institute, Dr Ramadoss had made some direct appointments and transfers of senior functionaries, including the Dean, in the institute, bypassing the Director.

Dr Venugopal was criticised for allowing the almost 16-day anti-quota reservation in May to be run from the institute's premises and ''being lenient '' with the agitating doctors and students.

On June 15, the AIIMS Director went public with his grievances against the Health Minister and threatened to resign.

He had accused Dr Ramadoss of ''systematic diluting and undermining'' the autonomy of AIIMS and the authority of the director. Dr Venugopal had also apprised the Prime Minister about the situation.

The AIIMS Director had alleged that the Health Minister was also ''interfering '' in day-to-day working of AIIMS.

He then proceeded on leave for almost ten days.

Dr Ramadoss had denied the charges and accused the AIIMS administration of not performing its duties well for the past two years.

Despite court orders that no punitive action will be taken against striking doctors, the Health Ministry had stopped salaries of the striking doctors, saying ''no work no pay''.

UNI NR RP KP2214

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