Protests over doc’s murder

The Upper Assam districts of Dibrugarh and Sivasagar today witnessed protests over the murder of Sarita Kumari Toshniwal, a lady doctor at the AMCH yesterday, with students and doctors calling for speedy investigations. They also demanded that the culprit be tried in a fast-track court.
Protesters at the AMCH demanded written explanation from the authorities and the district administration for failing to provide security to the students and the doctors. The students said till now the AMCH authorities had not taken any step. Around 1,100 students participated in the protest.
Senior doctors and professors today joined the protest with students. “Incident of manhandling doctors is not a new one; it is repeatedly done all over the country, but the administration has not taken any step for the security of the doctors,” said a senior doctor on condition of anonymity.
“Cases of molestation and eve-teasing are common on the AMCH campus, but despite knowing all this the authorities have not taken any adequate step,” said a junior doctor of the hospital.
The police said during interrogation the ward boy Kiro Mech had confessed that he was under the influence of alcohol. Naba Kumar Bora, officer-in-charge of Sadar police station, said the accused had been remanded in judicial custody. Mech is a resident of Chiringhula Ghoramorah under Lahoal police station.
Traders of Sivasagar kept their shutters down today to protest against the murder of Sarita who hails from Amolapatty in Sivasagar.
A meeting was held at Milan Mandir today where people in large numbers took part. It demanded exemplary punishment to the guilty, employment of the next of kin of the deceased, an ex gratia of Rs 50 lakh to her family and protection of patients and employees at the hospital.
Several organisations of Sivasagar today held separate demonstrations in the town to protest the murder.
Thousands of well-wishers made a beeline for the Toshniwal residence to express condolences. Sarita’s mother Krishna, elder sister Poonam and younger brother Sushil arrived in Sivasagar today. Krishna and Sushil had gone to Delhi to shop for her wedding. Sarita was to marry Dr Roshan Agarwal of Nagaon on July 7.
Her body was cremated at Thanamukh Shantidham crematorium here.
The murder has brought to light an acute shortage of staff and employees at one of the oldest medical hospitals and colleges in the region.
A source, on condition of anonymity, said at the AMCH almost 70 per cent of the grade III and grade IV employees are employed on daily-wage basis. “The calibre of those employed at such poor rates cannot be compared to those who would have got a better salary in a permanent post,” he said.
The police said Mech had said he got only Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per month and had allegedly been “belittled” by Sarita over this.
“We are suffering from an acute shortage of nurses — almost 60 per cent short,” the source said.
The source blamed the government for not appointing permanent employees to these posts that had been lying vacant for several years.
A police officer said on Thursday night there should have been two nurses on duty but one nurse did not turn up.

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