The Indian Medical Association on Wednesday withdrew its protest against attacks on frontline health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic after Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan spoke with the organisation’s representatives and doctors and assured them that the government would look after their safety.

On Tuesday, the Indian Medical Association had called for a “White Alert” and appealed to doctors across the country to light candles on Wednesday as a mark of protest against attacks on health workers. The organisation had also warned that they will observe a “Black Day’’ on April 23 if the government does not take action.

“Considering the immediate high level response of the government and solid assurance given by the home minister himself that the White Alert protest of 22nd [Wednesday] and the Black Day of 23rd [Thursday] stands withdrawn to maintain the unity and integrity of the country,” the IMA said in a statement.

Shah on Wednesday spoke with doctors through video-conferencing and urged them to withdraw the “symbolic protest” they had planned for the day. He lauded them for their work and assured them that the government will take measures to protect them against attacks.

“Safety and dignity of our doctors at their work place is non-negotiable,” he tweeted after the meeting. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure conducive atmosphere for them at all times,” he added. “I have assured doctors that Modi govt [government] is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest.”

There were been several instances of attacks on healthcare workers and the police across the country. Last week, a mob in Chennai attacked a group, including doctors, during the burial of a neurosurgeon who had died of Covid-19. Earlier this month, residents in Shillong in Meghalaya refused to allow a 69-year-old doctor’s family to perform his last rites. The doctor, who died of Covid-19, was buried nearly 36 hours later at a church cemetery.

In Uttar Pradesh, a team of doctors and health workers were attacked with stones earlier this month while they were on their way to take the family members of a Covid-19 patient to a quarantine facility. Last week, health workers in Bihar were attacked by villagers in four different districts of the state during the door-to-door screening for the coronavirus.

India’s Covid-19 tally has gone up to 19,984 with a toll of 640 as of Wednesday morning.

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