Two doctors from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad cities in Maharashtra have been asked to vacate their rented homes in the past few days, The Indian Express reported on Friday.
This comes even after the Centre brought in an ordinance to protect healthcare professionals from being attacked or harassed. Earlier this month, the central government had said such attacks will be a non-bailable offence and carry an imprisonment of six months to seven years.
In one of the cases, the doctor was asked to vacate his apartment in Pimpri-Chinchwad after his landlord expressed concern over getting infected with Covid-19. “There is no way the doctor could get another rented premises at this time,” Indian Medical Association General Secretary Sudhir Bhalerao said, adding that they managed to find an alternate accommodation for him.
The medical association’s Maharashtra unit chief Avinash Bhondve said a residential society in Pune had asked a doctor to vacate his apartment. “After city police and divisional commissioner intervened, the society members relented,” Bhondve was quoted as saying.
Healthcare professionals, deployed on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus pandemic, have been facing attacks in many cities. On Tuesday, residents of a village in Ambala city in Haryana clashed with the police and pelted stones at doctors after refusing to allow the cremation of a coronavirus suspect.
Earlier this month, in Kerala, a residents’ association in Ernakulam district asked a government doctor working with Covid-19 patients to vacate his premises. In Delhi, a 42-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly assaulted two women resident doctors of Safdarjung Hospital. He had accused them of “spreading” the coronavirus, PTI reported.
On April 22, Union minister Prakash Javadekar had said that it was unfortunate that health workers are being attacked. “No incident of violence or harassment against doctors and healthcare workers will be tolerated. An ordinance has been brought in, it will be implemented after the president’s sanction. In case of grave injury caused, accused can get jail term from six months to seven years.” Two days later, President Ram Nath Kovind had approved The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
The Cabinet approved amendments to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to ensure that any attack on doctors or health workers will be liable to a penalty of anywhere between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. Punishment for others attacks will be three months to 5 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Javadekar had said the investigation in the matter will be completed in 30 days and the verdict will be given within one year. “If damage is done to the vehicles or clinics of healthcare workers, then a compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused,” he added.