Horrifying visuals from Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal came out this morning where healthcare workers were allegedly attacked by relatives of a deceased COVID-19 patient. The relatives are also seen vandalising the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment. Healthcare workers, who are under tremendous pressure and working tirelessly against the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have often faced brutal and aggressive attacks.
Reportedly, the incident took place after a young woman who was undergoing treatment in the hospital succumbed to the virus. The Central and state government has made all efforts towards achieving better healthcare facilities so hospitals can accommodate and treat more COVID-19 victims, however, cases like these only increase the pressure on authorities. Last week, a junior doctor in Assam's Hojai district was brutally thrashed by COVID-victim's Kin and an investigation on the matter is currently going on. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has assured justice to the victim while clarifying that such incidents 'won't be tolerated'.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), last week wrote a letter to Home Minister, Amit Shah demanding a Central law against the heinous crime committed against healthcare workers. Recently, increasing reports of attacks have been coming out from several parts of India including Maharashtra's Palghar, Jharkhand's Khunti, Karnataka, and Delhi. In fact, the Karnataka government recently increased the jail term in cases of "atrocities and manhandling of healthcare workers" with 5 years of imprisonment.
In September 2020, the Lok Sabha had passed a bill that provided for up to seven years in jail for those attacking healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus or during any situation. The government had brought the ordinance on April 22 to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to make incidents of violence on health workers treating COVID-19 patients a non-bailable offense.
Apart from attacks on doctors and other medical staff, several frontline workers including police officers have also been attacked while conducting duty. Cases have been reported from several parts of India including Maharashtra, Bihar, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh where police officers have been attacked for asking people not to violate COVID norms and lockdown rules.