Two nationwide doctors’ networks on Monday condemned the attacks on students, faculty and an ambulance at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday evening saying the violence coupled with police inaction signal a complete breakdown of law-and-order.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the country’s largest body of doctors, and the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) have also expressed concerns at what some members have described as an atmosphere that encourages violence in society.
Goons wearing masks and helmets and carrying sticks had attacked students and faculty on the JNU campus on Sunday evening, blocked an ambulance, and prevented two doctors and volunteers in the ambulance from providing medical aid to any injured persons.
“The IMA condemns the mindless violence on the doctors and nurses who rushed to treat the injured in JNU,” the association said in a statement circulated to the media. “The situation in the country smacks of total anarchy and breakdown of law and order is complete.”
The ADEH has said it was “shocked, dismayed and saddened” by the attack on JNU and the ambulance and has questioned why in an era of instant communication, the police did not intervene any earlier than it did.
The attack on the team of doctors and nurses and ambulance is an “unprecedented” violation of the 1929 Geneva Convention that requires doctors and medical staff trying to treat the wounded or sick to be protected and respected under all circumstances, the ADEH said.
“We are extremely worried about the current atmosphere that appears to encourage violence,” said Gurinder Singh Grewal, an internal medicine specialist in Ludhiana, an ADEH founder-member, and former president of the Punjab Medical Council. “It is dangerous and unacceptable when police remain silent spectators.”
A senior IMA office-bearer told The Telegraph that the association had chosen the word “anarchy” consciously.
“We are worried about the overall prevailing atmosphere — this is an atmosphere in which even an ambulance is not spared of a mob’s wrath,” said R.V. Asokan, IMA’s general secretary. “What kind of a society is this? We are supposed to give way to an ambulance not block it and heckle doctors inside it.”
The IMA has demanded that the Union health ministry should condemn the incident at JNU and ensure the safety and security of all doctors and nurses who reach out to the injured.
The IMA and the ADEH had last month independently condemned incidents in which police personnel in Delhi and Mangalore had attempted to obstruct doctors from providing medical attention to victims of police violence during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The IMA has a nationwide membership of around 300,000 doctors and the ADEH is a network of physicians and surgeons campaigning for ethical healthcare.