Orissa acts tough against agitating doctors

November 7th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 7 (IANS) The Orissa government Friday sent a clear message to nearly 3,000 doctors, who resigned en masse to protest dismissal of their three colleagues, by accepting the resignation of seven office bearers of the doctors’ union. The state government last month dismissed Bibek Swain, an anaesthesiologist, Santanu Sahu, a surgeon, and Anup Nath Sharma, an orthopaedic specialist, for allegedly cutting off the palms of five tribals while performing autopsies on their bodies in 2006.

Around 3,000 government doctors submitted their resignations Monday to protest the dismissal and threatened not to join work from Nov 9 if the orders were not withdrawn.

State Health Minister Sanatana Bisi said that the government has accepted the resignations of seven doctors and will act against others if they do not join work.

“All the seven doctors are office bearers of the Orissa Medical Service Association (OMSA),” he said.

The minister said that the government has taken measures to ensure that essential medical services are maintained if the doctors do not join work from Nov 9.

“We are firm on our decision,” said Madhusudan Mishra, the president of OMSA.

“Several doctors posted in remote areas have already left hospitals and are heading towards state capital Bhubaneswar to join our protest,” he said.

The tribals were killed in police firing during protests in the coastal district of Jajpur.

The doctors said they had cut off the hands following directions from administration and police officials to preserve the identity of those killed.

Of the 500 tribals protesting construction being undertaken by Tata Steel at the industrial complex in Kalinga Nagar, about 100 km from Bhubaneswar, at least 13 were killed during the police firing Jan 2, 2006.

The incident created a storm within and outside Orissa. Following pressure from various human right groups, the state government had suspended the three doctors the same year.

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