| Four students (wearing garlands) of SCB Medical College sit on an indefinite hunger strike in Cuttack on Tuesday. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Sambalpur/Cuttack, Sept. 20: The Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) Medical College at Burla reopened today after 13 days. However, health service at the hospital continued to suffer as the striking junior doctors and medical students refused to join on duty and classes.
“The order issued for indefinite closure of the college was revoked today. However, no students have arrived on the campus so far,” said principal Santosh Kuma Behera.
Moreover, four junior doctors of the SCB Medical College in Cuttack today launched an indefinite hunger strike.
“We prefer to die this way rather than dying at the hands of a criminal who is moving freely,” said Dr Prakash Panda, member of the Joint Action Committee.
Normalcy in health service has not been restored at the VSS Medical College And Hospital. “Health service at the hospital has been seriously affected. Moreover, there are more than 70 dengue patients undergoing treatment at the hospital. We are managing the situation with the help of non-clinical doctors,” said superintendent of the medical college and hospital Gunasagar Das.
On Sunday, the state government had decided to reopen the college and assured the striking students and doctors of security measures, including a ban on the entry of “goons” to the campus and arrest of the culprits allegedly involved in the attack on the agitating junior doctors and medical students.
“The government’s assurances for security of the doctors and medical students are too little and too late. Moreover, the government is trying to hoodwink the public and the media that they have fulfilled the students’ demands, which is not true,” said Premraj Debta, president of the junior doctor association of VSS Medical College and Hospital.
The college was closed indefinitely on September 7 following a clash between the medics and local residents.
The students have been staging dharna in the capital city since then. Junior doctors and medical students of SCB Medical College in Cuttack and MKCG Medical College in Berhampur have extended their support to the cause by launching ceasework agitation.
The strike has paralysed health service in all the three government-run medical colleges and hospitals across the state.
In another development, the Sambalpur district administration has prohibited entry of Burla unit president of Biju Janata Dal Sisir Dandia, who had been allegedly involved in the attack on the agitating medics.
The administration has also stepped up security in the hospital area by erecting barricades on the road running through the medical college.
The students have been demanding Dandia’s arrest. To get out of the tricky situation, Dandia has tendered apology to the agitating medics. Talking to The Telegraph, Dandia said: “I don’t want the patients to suffer for me. I tender my apology to the agitating students.” He also requested them to withdraw their agitation and resume duty.
However, this move had failed to pacify the junior doctors and medics, who decided to intensify their agitation till all their demands were fulfilled.