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Puri doctor assault sparks protests

The Puri District Headquarters Hospital after being ransacked on Wednesday. Picture by Sarat Patra

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 18: Four doctors submitted their resignations and 25 abstained from duty at the Puri District Headquarters Hospital following an alleged assault on their colleague at the medical facility last night.

Following the incident, R.K. Ghadei, Santanu Jena, Rakesh Sethy and Nilachal Singh tendered their resignations. The Odisha Medical Service Association, a body of government doctors, today threatened to launch an agitation if the government failed to provide security to working doctors, who of late, have become victims of mobs in various parts of the state.

The Puri hospital today started functioning normally after the government assured the doctors of providing round-the-clock security. Such incidents have become a matter of concern despite the state had enacted a law in 2009 to provide deterrent punishment for culprits.

The Orissa Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2009, provides for imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to Rs 50,000 for an act of violence against a medical service person or damage to the property of any health care institution. It is a non-bailable offence. Besides, an accused may have to pay by way of compensation for the damage caused to the public property. If the compensation is not paid, it will be recovered under the provisions of the Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act, 1962, which provides for auction of landed property of the accused person.

But, legal provisions have not deterred people from assaulting doctors on duty and damaging hospital property. Last night, the mob assaulted a doctor and a few paramedics at the Puri hospital following the death of a 26-year-old. The mob ransacked the hospital, smashing computers, glass panes and furniture.

On June 23, a member of the Jagannath temple managing committee and secretary of the Daitapati Niyog, Premanananda Das Mohapatra, and his son-in-law Nabakishna Prusty had allegedly assaulted a doctor for delay in treatment to one of their patients. The duo were arrested the next day following a hue and cry.

Additional district medical officer (medical) Prabhat Kumar Sahu told The Telegraph: "The doctors' resignations have not been accepted. I have requested them to withdraw their resignations."

Additional district magistrate Uddhab Chandra Majhi said the cease work was called off after the administration promised to provide them 24x7 security. "One platoon of police has been deployed and action will be taken against those, who indulged in last night's violence, on the basis of CCTV footage," Majhi said.

Puri police superintendent Sarthak Sarangi said the administration was considering a proposal to open a police outpost at the hospital.

Assaults on doctors have been reported from the Capital Hospital several times, following which a police outpost was set up on its premises.

When his attention was drawn to frequent assaults on doctors on duty at several places across the state, a health department official said: "We have enacted a law to prevent such incidents and requested the home department to provide security wherever necessary. It is the responsibility of local authorities to inform the police in case of any particular incident."


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