Maharashtra doctors end agitation, 135 patients die

Even as the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, dissociating itself from the doctors' strike in the state, it assured the court that the agitating doctors would resume work by 8 pm tomorrow.

Though Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) did not extend support or endorse the protest by the doctors, it was involved in negotiations with the state government from day one.

Taking forward its demand for better security and working conditions, which has been festering for long, resident doctors who are now spearheading a state wide strike have justified their actions saying that they are working in very poor, sub-human conditions, with lack of proper accommodation, lack of proper nutrition and heavy work load.

The strike by Maharashtra's doctors, who are protesting a spate of assaults on colleagues by patients' relatives, entered the fourth day on Thursday even as almost 2,000 of them got expulsion notice a day ago. The protests started after two new cases were reported from Wadia Maternity Hospital in Parel, Mumbai, and Aurangabad, where doctors were assaulted by the relatives of some patients. "If you continue to hold the sick at ransom and leave patients to die like this, people won't consider you as "Dev" (gods) but Danavas (demons)", Fadnavis said.

After holding a meeting with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday, the doctors chose to wait for a copy of the minutes before taking a call on joining duty.

Also, the state government, on March 22 had issued a circular stating that a total of 1,100 security personnel will be provided from Police Security Corporation of which 500 will be deployed by April 5 across government hospitals in Mumbai. The Indian Medical Association, which has around 2.7 lakh members across the country, has also supported the strike.

"This time we are being careful", said a MARD official, explaining the delay in the doctors returning to work. If you keep stretching the matter like this then the public will come and hit you. Let the hospital management take suitable action against doctors. You are creating this atmosphere. If the doctors fail to resume work Saturday, government will not sit quietly.

Mahajan said despite the High Court directive and appeal by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the doctors have not yielded. Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court and Maharashtra government reacted rather strongly to the prolonged protests.

  • Joanne Flowers