Doctors Withdraw Symbolic Protest

Ordinance to treat offences against doctors as non bailable and cognizable issued  

This is Part-1 of a two part report.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) withdrew its protest,slated for today, April 22, after their meeting with the Home Minister and the Health Minister.

Safety and dignity of our doctors at their work place is non-negotiable, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said as he urged the to withdraw a symbolic protest by doctors against attacks on health workers who are in the frontline of the country’s coronavirus battle.


India COVID-19 Cases: Amit Shah and Dr Harsha Vardhan interacted with doctors through video-conferencing.

The Centre has issued an ordinance for protection of doctors under which cases of assault on medics will be non bailable, Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said Wednesday, Hindustan Times reported.

The decision came hours after Union home minister Amit Shah during a meeting with IMA….though it is one month after complaints made by doctors to the govt.

The dynamics, details, implications and likely impact of the Ordinance need to be studied.

“Changes in the Epidemic Diseases Act through ordinance have been approved by the cabinet. It will be implemented after the President’s sanction.

Offences will be made non bailable and cognizable,” Javadekar said at a briefing.

“Investigations will be completed in 30 days. There will be stringent punishment including fines up to Rs 2 lakh.

If serious cases, the punishment will be imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs five lakh,” he said.

“The message is clear. No attacks on health staff and doctors will be tolerated,” Javadekar said. The government had received several complaints of assaults on doctors and health workers, particularly those involved in Covid care.

‘Black Day’, Black Badges planned

There have been several cases of healthcare workers on COVID-19 duty being attacked by mobs, across the country.

IMA on April 20 Monday declared it will observe April 23 as a ‘Black Day’ to protest against increasing attacks on doctors and healthcare workers, the country’s frontline in the fight against the highly infectious Covid-19 disease. Candle lights in solidarity were planned for April 22, i.e., tonight.

In a statement issued Apr 20 Monday, national president of the IMA, Dr Rajan Sharma said doctors and hospitals will send out a ‘white alert’ on 22 April by lighting a candle as a mark of protest. A day later, on 23 April, they will observe ‘Black Day’.

“All the doctors in the country will work with black badges. Further decision will be taken if suitable steps are not taken by the government even after Black Day”, the statement said.

Amid the rising incidents of violence against healthcare workers, the IMA had demanded the government bring in a law on an urgent basis to protect medical professionals.

Protest withdrawn after meeting with Amit Shah

“Safety and dignity of our doctors at their work place is non-negotiable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure conducive atmosphere for them at all times. I have assured doctors that Modi govt is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest,” Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted after the meeting.

Safety and dignity of our doctors at their work place is non-negotiable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure conducive atmosphere for them at all times.

I have assured doctors that Modi govt is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest. 

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 22, 2020

Several former office-bearers of the IMA appealed to doctors not to stage the symbolic protest at a time when the country is facing its worst public health crisis.

They also urged the government to ensure safety and security for the doctors. Several videos of their appeals have been released on social media.

The doctors wrote to the Home Minister a month ago

The Modi government however was not prompt in taking the measures, some doctors said. They recalled the letter, of March 24, by AIIMS Delhi Resident Doctors’ Association.


However, the Home Minister and his team was busy in something else. The Health Ministry, from late March, was daily issuing bulletins how Markaz Nizamuddin aggravated the problem.

Their political colleagues including BJP Ministers spoke of Corona Jehad, of conspiracy, and terrorism too.

Vast sections of the Media, not merely social media, was playing second fiddle to this. When some wanted to raise questions, they were silenced, alleging they were aiding anti-nationals.

There was no answer to the question whether US and Europe too had the menace only because of the Markaz. Together, ten of those countries accounted for over 70-80 percent of cases and deaths, out of around 180 countries for which data was available.

Nor was there an answer whether the conspiracy was aimed against Pakistan and Saudi Arabia too, by the Islamic pest.

The Ordinance : Is it going to solve the problem?

There was no dearth of laws at the Centre and in the states too to handle any eventuality. But they did not come to rescue the doctors, who have been complaining, foer years, on security and protection of doctors. It was long before the Covid. There were strikes too by doctors. And doctors were punished for that.

In fact, in the current context, several arrests were made; NSA and Section 307 of IPC (attempt to murder) were threatened, and also used against some Muslims who allegedly assaulted and abused the doctors. It was as if only muslims were indulging in the offence.

There are no reports to show that such provisions were used against those of other religions too, though similar incidents were there, though reported only in limited numbers.    

Even this issue was given a communal twist by the media, and by the government, at the behests of the ruling party as can be seen in many instances. Just a few incidents are enough to understand the same.



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