Deplorable actions

Police brutality inside the Mangaluru hospital paints the administration in poor light

Several medical organisations including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH), the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) and others have taken a strong note of police brutality on doctors and the paramedical staff in Highland hospital in Mangalore. Events in the Highland hospital as reported by various media sources confirm police barging into the hospital.

All this happened when Jaleel Kudroli and Nausheen Bengre, victims of firing were brought to Highland Hospital. As the news of their death spread, people started gathering outside the hospital and a confrontation ensued between protesters and police personnel. Many video clips show policemen running through a corridor and attempting to kick open a door and using lathis and shields to push people at the other side away.

Local reports claim hospital staff were also beaten by the police. Another video from Highland Hospital showed policemen running after people in the hospital's lobby. Some people reportedly rushed to the ICU of Highland Hospital after the police fired teargas. Teargas was used at the hospital's parking lot and lobby. The police even banged on the doors of the ICU and damaged them. Even the people bringing the injured to the hospital were targeted by the police. This led to fear among the patients, doctors and staff.

This is an extremely serious matter. Health personal are nowhere barred to provide care to the sick or injured by any reason, rather there are laws even in the war situations which prohibit any attack on hospitals and health care facilities.

Indian people fought against the British imperialism vehemently. There used to be large mass protests led by national leaders, but there is no report to highlight that police prohibited medical personnel from giving medical aid to the injured. Even during the emergency, which is said to be the period when human rights were curtailed to the maximum, such incidents did not occur.

Medical professionals have worked in the most serious situations to help the ailing people even at the risk of their lives. The doctors were among the first to attend to the affected by the atomic bombing in Japan. Dr Marcel Junod was the first foreign doctor to visit Hiroshima from the Red Cross. The Red Cross has to its credit participation in the war-affected zones, providing healthcare to all concerned; they have never been stopped. In the history of Punjab, the name of Bhai Kanhaiya is remembered with the utmost respect for his care to the injured even among the soldiers of the enemy army and he was appreciated by Sri Guru Gobind Singh for his humanist gesture.

A doctor however cannot work under stressful conditions. Already there are enough issues that are putting the medical personnel in stress. Violence against doctors has occurred in many parts of the country, sometimes to very excessive level. But police brutality of this type has not been heard. It is to be noted that such attacks by the police have occurred only in those states which are ruled by the BJP. It suggests that it is a state policy to crush the democratic movements by force including those who try to heal the injured.

There have been media reports that during the Jamia Milia violence episode, some doctors used communal and derogatory language to injured people and avoided to treat patients. If true, this is completely immoral and unethical for a doctor. This is also violation of human rights of the sick and the injured. Human rights commission should take a serious note of this and investigate this matter and the role of police in obstructing the injured persons accessing health care.

It is important that no person should indulge in violence including the police. There should be a judicial inquiry into these reported incidences of police excesses and the guilty personnel and their supervisors should receive exemplary punishment. Human rights commission and the Medical Council of India should pro-actively investigate this matter of the reported communal and derogatory remarks regarding the injured persons by medical personnel. The government should send strict instructions to all police and other officials not to invade, threaten hospitals, not prevent an injured person from accessing health care or interfere with the work of health-care personnel to treat injured and affected people in any such conflict situation.

There is no space for violence, hate, bigotry in any civilised democratic society.

Views expressed are strictly personal

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