Violence by State in hospitals unacceptable, says IMA

Doctors’ body condemns denial of care to protesters by police, establishment  

By DTE Staff
Published: Sunday 22 December 2019
Mangaluru police try to break into a room in the city's Highland Hospital. Photo: @imMAK02
Mangaluru police try to break into a room in the city's Highland Hospital. Photo: @imMAK02
Mangaluru police try to break into a room in the city's Highland Hospital. Photo: @imMAK02

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the ‘police’ and the ‘establishment’ for allegedly indulging in violence in hospitals in the last one week. In a statement released on December 22, 2019, the doctors' body has also cried foul over protestors being denied medical care by the police. 

“There are disturbing reports from areas of protests and resistance that police have entered hospitals and at least in one case, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This is a new low in civic life of the nation but not entirely unexpected given the impunity which violence is heaped on doctors and hospitals. However the difference this time is that it is the establishment which has lost its restraint,” the statement said.

“The visuals of a policeman violently opening an ICU door by stomping is a clear indication of the New Truth and the New Standards.”

It may be mentioned here that there have been reports of police damaging ICUs and hospitals wards in Mangaluru on December 20, 2019. India has been witnessing strident protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act over the past one week.

Talking to Down To Earth, IMA secretary R V Asokan said, “What happened in Mangaluru has shocked us. How could police enter a hospital, and its ICU and ransack it? We are releasing the statement after 48 hours of the incident because we wanted to be doubly sure that the police was involved.” 

“We have seen several protests in the country. Even when the Emergency was imposed in 1975, hospitals were never touched. This is something which we are seeing for the first time,” Asokan said. 

He added that doctors were now hesitating to treat those who came to them for medical care after being wounded. “There is a pervasive fear. They are scared as to what will happen if police comes chasing such wounded to hospitals and violence spills over. This is very alarming. We do not want to blame anybody — political party or protestors — but we cannot sit silent too.” 

The IMA also alleged that police was denying medical care to those injured. “What makes IMA react today is that disturbing reports of denial of access to medical care are emerging. This is unacceptable. Everyone has right of access to medical care. The Government and its establishment have no right to deny anyone their right of access,” the statement said.

Incidentally, in the last few days, several protestors and lawyers have alleged that police had denied basic medical care to protestors taken to various police stations, especially in Delhi. 

“How can the police do this? As much we stand for doctors and hospitals on this occassion, we do stand for patients as well. The government cannot simply allow this to happen,” Asokan said. 

There have also been certain media reports that doctors, while treating protestors, had ridiculed them for their identity and religious affiliations. Asked about it, Asokan said, “While we cannot confirm it but if this is true then we have to condemn in in no uncertain terms. Historically, there have been instances of  doctors who worked in Nazi German camps during World War II and indulged in all sorts of unethical practices. The doctors’ community never supported that too, after all.” 

Updated Dec 23 to remove reference to letter to PM 

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