EXPRESS INDIA, Monday, November 19, 2007.

Unjha doctors strike work

Ahmedabad, November 19 Doctors in the north Gujarat town of Unjha stayed off their clinics and hospitals on Monday, refusing to take up even emergency cases, which they diverted to the Government hospital. The strike was in protest against the attack on a hospital by relatives of a patient on Sunday. The hospital was vandalised, vehicles gutted and two doctors were manhandled on Sunday.

According to Dr Anil Patel, vice-president of Unjha Medical Association, trouble started after Kuldeep Kumar Vishnubhai Patel (10), who had undergone a minor surgery for circumcision at Anand Hospital on Sunday morning, died about two hours later. Dr Patel, who is an anaesthetist, was present during the operation which was performed by Dr P K Patel. "The surgery was successful but due to the carelessness shown by the relatives, the boy died in a couple of hours. The death enraged them and they attacked the hospital. We could save our lives only by bolting the doors from inside until police came. They had to control the situation by bursting teargas shells," said Dr P K Patel. He said that the boy was brought from nearby Unava town for circumcision on medical grounds.

Cross complaints were lodged and police had provided protection to the doctors following threat to their lives. "We have already got the post-mortem examination done to ascertain the reason of death and are awaiting the report," he further said.

Till reports last came in, a meeting of local NGOs and prominent people was to be held on Monday evening to express support for the doctors. All the 33 doctors in Unjha and another 30 in surrounding areas remained on strike. Asked if people would suffer because of denial of emergency treatment, Dr Anil Patel said there were not many patients because of the festive season.

Dr Bipin Patel, honorary general secretary of state branch of Indian Medical Association, said that the Government should take strict action against those responsible for the attack on doctors. According to Unjha police, they have registered cross complaints in this case and inspector C R Parmar is investigating the case.

(File created 20 November 2007)