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Doctors pass strike baton

New Delhi, May 31: Medical students and resident doctors tonight decided to return to their classrooms and wards following a Supreme Court directive, but some non-medical supporters pledged to keep the anti-quota agitation going.

As medicos at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ended their 19-day strike, those in other teaching medical colleges in Delhi and elsewhere, including Calcutta, followed suit.

The apex court, observing that patients had been “left to the mercy of God”, had asked the doctors to call off the strike immediately and added it was “sure” the government would not punish them.

The threat of dismissal and the looming examinations might also have played a part in the medicos’ decision. In a few weeks, the students who’ve spent the past two weeks on the lawns of AIIMS have to face exams.

But some doctors from private hospitals and students from the universities were talking about intensifying and spreading the agitation, with the baton passing to Delhi University.

“Now, this is going to be a national movement,” said Dr Dinesh Pendharkar, a medical oncologist at the Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre. “There are thousands of us in this movement ' students from universities, Indian Institutes of Technology, and the private medical sector.”

Delhi University students are forming committees that could take over the functions involved in running the agitation. Student representatives from the colleges will meet later this week to work out plans.

“We’ll start with an awareness campaign. We are planning to go to slums and rural areas and tell people how the most backward classes remain excluded from OBC reservations,” said Nityanand Agasti, a postgraduate student at Delhi University.

Student coordinators are also trying to get in touch with the student union leaders of various colleges to try and get them to involve their faculty.

As the strike at AIIMS drew to a close, students from several schools arrived at the institute to declare support for the anti-quota agitation.

“We’re all going to be affected by the new reservation policy,” said Prerna Arora, a Class XII student.

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