KATHMANDU, NOV 08 - The Patan Hospital remained tense on Thursday morning after security personnel intervened in a protest programme by doctors and staff.
The protesting doctors and staff, who were attempting to padlock the Vice-chancellor’s (VC) office as per their new protest programme, clashed with police, injuring two medical students. Police resorted to a baton charge after doctors, hospital staff and MBBS students forced their way into the Patan Academy of Health Sciences’ (PAHS) VC office. However, as the situation was in danger of escalating, police allowed the protesters to padlock the office but broke the lock almost an hour later.
Police also used batons on MBBS students who were staging a sit-in on the hospital premises. Following the clash, the students, expressing concern over the use of force inside a hospital area, protested further, opening up their aprons and staged a sit-in protest. However, SSP Rajendra Man Shrestha of the Lalitpur Metropolitan Police Range said that security personnel did not use the amount of force as claimed.
The agitating doctors and staff are demanding resignation of VC Dr Sangita Bhandari and Rector Dr Soumya Bhattacharya. Since November 1, they have closed down the Out-Patient Department for an hour every morning staging sit-in protests against Dr Bhandari’s political appointment, along with her “unilateral” decision to appoint Dr Bhattacharya as rector.
Dr Bhandari had told the Post on Wednesday that she had asked for security from the District Administration Office, fearing for her safety and that of her office. Police were deployed at the hospital since Wednesday while three more vehicles with around 100 police arrived at the site on Thursday.
However, the protest movement found an ally in Dr Govinda KC, a senior doctor at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital who has twice spearheaded a fast-unto-death demanding an end to political appointments to major posts at public hospitals. Dr KC professed moral support for the protest and appealed to the agitating side to press their demands peacefully.
Dr Bhandari, on the other hand, said that the protesters had vague demands and did not want to reconcile. “The protesters themselves are confused over their demands, hence they don’t want sit for talks,” Dr Bhandari told the Post. “It is a childish way of behaving.”
Dr Arjun Karki, former VC of the PAHS, condemned the police intervention and said that the use of force on hospital premises to disrupt a peaceful protest was very concerning. The Nepal Medical Association (NMA) also condemned the police’s actions. Dr Bhupendra Bahadur Basnet, secretary of the NMA, said that the “barbaric” interference of the police at the hospital was a cause for concern and would send negative messages to patients.
A senior doctor at the hospital, on condition of anonymity, warned that if police intervention continues, they will be forced to shut down all services at the hospital, including emergency services.
Posted on: 2012-11-09 08:48