Doctors protesting against the delay in college allotments after the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test, or NEET, postgraduate medical exam will continue their demonstrations, reported NDTV on Tuesday.
The announcement came after Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a meeting with the resident doctors on Tuesday afternoon, ANI reported.
At the meeting, the health minister had asked the protesting doctors to call off their strike. He expressed regret for “any misbehaviour on the part of the police” during the protests on Monday.
The demonstrations were announced after the Delhi Police on Monday evening used force against the doctors protesting the delay in counselling after the NEET exam.
More than 2,500 resident doctors were reportedly detained at the Sarojini Nagar police station while they were heading towards Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya’s home. Many of them were dragged and thrashed on the roads.
Resident doctors, led by the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association, started their protests pointing out that the delay in new admissions to medical colleges has increased workload in hospitals. Over the last week, they have intensified their protests saying that further delay in admissions could lead to an acute situation amid the rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
At the meeting on Tuesday, the Union health minister said that the counselling was delayed as the matter was pending in the Supreme Court. But Mandaviya urged the protestors to resume work due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.
“However, the case will be heard in the Supreme Court on January 6, and the Centre will submit its report before that,” the health minister said. “I hope that counselling starts soon.”
With the ongoing protests, medical services in Delhi could be hampered for at least two days as several doctors’ organisations on Tuesday extended their support to the ongoing strike, to protest the delayed college allotments after the NEET postgraduate medical exam.
Resident doctors’ associations at multiple hospitals of the city, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, boycotted work in non-emergency wards.
Reports suggested that doctors at major government-run facilities like the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College were also on strike.
As the protests continued on Tuesday police forces were deployed at Safdarjung Hospital, which witnessed the largest demonstration, PTI reported.
Doctors were also unavailable at Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital’s outpatient department till noon, according to ANI.
The protests started in November after the Supreme Court on October 25 said that NEET counselling will not start till it examines the validity of the government’s decision to introduce reservations for the Other Backward Classes and the Economically Weaker Sections in the all-India quota for medical courses.
On Tuesday, the Federation of All India Medical Association also decided to join the agitation, The Indian Express reported. The organisation called upon its affiliate resident doctors’ associations to boycott all work, including emergency services, as a mark of protest against crackdown by the police on Monday.
In a letter to the Union health minister, the Resident Doctors’ Association of AIIMS said that its members would stop all non-emergency work on Tuesday if no concrete steps are taken. But after the Union health minister’s meeting, the doctors’ body at the hospital said that it will not continue protests on Wednesday.