As the talks, headed by Deputy Chief Minister and Medical Education Minister Ashwath Narayan, to break the deadlock failed, the striking junior doctors escalated protests by holding a rally in Minto hospital in Bengaluru. If their demands are not met, doctors working in private hospitals too are expected to close the Outpatient Department (OPD) from Thursday to express their solidarity.
On Friday, a group of pro-Kannada activists from Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) allegedly manhandled two postgraduate medicos in Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in Bengaluru. This happened when they came to ask about eye surgeries and were allegedly mishandled by doctors at Minto. Of 24 eye surgeries performed on July 9th, allegedly 22 patients were critically impacted; two lost eyesight completely while eight other patients partially. When the mob was arguing with the junior doctors, the medicos reportedly could not speak Kannada which enraged the activists, leading to the assault.
On Saturday, junior doctors associated with Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) launched an indefinite protest, closing the OPD demanding that the attackers should be booked by the police. The Dy CM Ashwath Narayan has announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs per patient and also assured that action will be taken against the doctors responsible for the mishap. He has also been holding a series of meetings with the striking doctors and representatives of Indian Medical Association to end the protests.
Due to the OPD being shut in several state-run hospitals like Minto, Bowring, Victoria etc, many patients have had to wait long hours and some others have had to return without medical assistance too. With the private doctors too threatening to close OPDs, the situation is feared to turn dire. But the doctors claim they have been victims to intimidating tactics several times in the past and the medicos who were allegedly assaulted were not even responsible for the surgeries. Saying that attacking doctors for not speaking Kannada not only puts outsiders at peril but also tarnishes the image of the state, the doctors have been demanding stringent measures for their security.
Meanwhile, KRV too held a protest on Tuesday evening at Townhall, Bengaluru against the doctors saying their strike is causing more inconvenience to the common man and is against their ethics. Accusing the doctors of neglect and irresponsibility, KRV has been demanding action against doctors and staff at Minto who were responsible for the July 9th botch up.