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Quota clash at Arjun door

New Delhi, April 26: The quota debate has spilled on to the streets, the first clash breaking out in front of Arjun Singh’s house and setting the stage for a strike in medical colleges.

Doctors and students of five teaching hospitals in the capital have decided to go on indefinite strike after police cracked down on their demonstration against increased reservation in front of Arjun’s residence.

“We are going on an indefinite strike. We will meet representatives of all the teacher associations and the Indian Medical Association. The government has shown it does not want to listen to us,” said Aniruddh Lochan of the University College of Medical Sciences.

“At the moment, we will not involve doctors who are on regular duty, but all extra medical staff will be on strike.” The strike, he added, will not affect the emergency services.

Officials said Arjun’s human resource development ministry is determined to go ahead with the proposal to set aside 27 per cent seats for other backward class students in educational institutions, including IIMs, IITs and medical colleges. ( )

The trouble started early this morning when students from AIIMS, Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College, University College of Medical Science and Vardhman Medical College began gathering under the banner of Youth For Equality.

They assembled outside Arjun’s 17 Akbar Road residence, close to 10 Janpath, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s house.

“It was a peaceful march. But the police came with lathis and beat us. It was not even the women police. They just caught hold of our hands and legs and dumped us into the (police) bus,” said Shweta Sardana of Lady Hardinge Medical College.

Sardana said the police, which had been informed about the protest in advance, came to the “hostels” last night to stop students from joining the march. “At AIIMS, the police lathicharged students when they began to gather for the march early this morning,” she added.

“We went to the minister’s residence but he has refused to meet us,” fumed Lochan. “We are now mobilising colleges and a hospital strike. We will not hurt the people. But this strike is in reaction to how the police were treating us.”

“The quota is going to lower the standards of the medical profession,” Sardana said.

Deputy commissioner of police Anand Mohan said the students were removed because they were protesting in a “restricted” area. “We asked them several times to take their protest to Jantar Mantar but they did not.”

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