75 medicos into custody
LUCKNOW: Medical graduates from King George's Medical University (KGMU), opposing the UP Post Graduate Medical Entrance Exam were taken into police custody late Monday evening after senior administrative officials failed to convince them to call off their strike. Later, more than 75 students, including 14 who were fasting for the last six days, were detained at the police lines.
The administrative officials had made similar attempt at around Sunday midnight. Medical students sitting on hunger strike were admitted forcibly to the Balrampur Hospital by a team from the district administration. At the government hospitals, the doctors and staff tried to administer the students a glucose and normal saline. Though the hospital staff managed to give them normal saline solution, the students refused to take glucose as it would have broken their fast. By Monday morning, the medicos signed LAMA (leave against medical advice) application and left the hospital to join their fellows outside KGMU.
The students were staging a demonstration outside KGMU campus for the last six days. The students maintained that UPPGMEE was redundant as they had taken the national eligibility cum entrance test (NEET). Unfortunately, NEET was stuck in litigation and had it not for the pendency of the petition in the Supreme Court, there was no need to hold UPPGMEE. The students also stated that since UP had agreed to admit students through NEET, the state exam would be an additional burden on them. Therefore, they demanded cancellation of the exam.
However, after meeting chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday morning, students softened their stand a bit. Instead of demanding cancellation of the exam, they asked the government to postpone UPPGMEE till the Supreme Court verdict was out. "When the authorities told us that they cannot cancel the exam, we said they can at least postpone it," said Kapil Singh Verma, who is heading the group of protesting students. Officials in the medical education department informed that students noted a list of apprehensions which were brought by officials from the district administration. "We answered most of the questions point-wise," said Dr KK Gupta, director general medical education.
All through the day several rounds of talks between student leaders and officials of the Lucknow district administration including district magistrate Anurag Yadav continued but the parties failed to reach a consensus. Sources said pressure on district administrative officials to end the strike was increasing with each passing hour. The strike was giving the opposition a chance to corner the state government. Politicians from Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had already met the students and were voicing their demands. Government doctors who examined the students sitting on hunger strike stated that the condition of some of the students was turning critical. Accordingly, they recommended that the students should either be hospitalised immediately or officials feed them forcibly to avoid any untoward incident.
Meanwhile, the striking medicos in the city were joined by their counterparts in Kanpur and Allahabad medical colleges even as support poured for the medicos from different quarters. Government doctors' body -UP Provincial Medical Services Association-and KGMU Teachers' Association have also extended support to the striking students. "The demand of the students is genuine," said president of PMS association. Dr Sanjay Khhatri, of the KGMU Teachers' Association said, "Over 2,600 of the 3,500-odd students who took NEET signed the letter of demand. The government cannot ignore them." The Indian Medical Association was in fact the first to support the students.
The flash strike by medicos in Allahabad and Kanpur caused problems for the patients as many of them were caught unawares. For example in Kanpur, students disrupted the emergency services and forcibly shut the out patient department at Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital (LLR) at 11.30am much before the usual closing time. Some of the patients who came from far-off towns condemned the doctors for their apathetic attitude.