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A tea garden worker’s family and others allegedly beat a 73-year-old doctor to death in Assam’s Jorhat district after the worker died at a hospital in Teok Tea Garden.
Police have ordered a magisterial enquiry in the matter. The enquiry will be conducted and a report submitted in seven days by Assistant Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Subhan Gowalla.
“The incident occurred on Saturday when a group of people attacked Dr Deben Dutta, following the death of Somra Manjhi who was undergoing treatment at the garden hospital,” India Today quoted Roshni Aparanji Korati, Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as saying.
After the death of the Manjhi, the hospital was surrounded by a mob of 250 to 300 people, who started vandalising the hospital and attacking the doctor. Dutta was the senior most doctor in Jorhat, and had retired long ago. He was serving on extension at the tea estate.
“They hit him and even cut him with glass shards. He suffered head and leg injuries. The police arrived and rescued him. We shifted him to Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) but he died on the way. We have detained 21 persons so far,” The Jorhat SP NV Chandrakant said.
Manjhi was injured after he fell down in the bathroom, and probably suffered a stroke. The doctor came 30 minutes after Manji was brought to the hospital, but he died meanwhile. This enraged the workers, who then carried out the attack.
The 21 people who have been detained belong to the tea tribe community.
In a joint press statement on September 1, a 24-hour long withdrawal of medical services was called by the state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Assam Medical Service Association (AMSA) as a mark of protest by doctors from 6 am on September 3 to 6 am the next day. This, however, excludes emergency services.
At 7 pm on September 3, doctors will take out a candlelight procession to mourn Dutta’s death.
Writing to Assam DGP Kuladhar Saikia over the incident, the Assam Medical Service Association (AMSA) urged that all the culprits be immediately arrested. Protests have already been staged by scores of doctors at the JMCH.
Kolkata-based Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited owns the Teok tea estate. In a ‘lock-out’ notice, the company said that there was chaos in the garden and all its executives feared for their safety. Until the atmosphere gets back the normal, the lock-out shall continue.
“The murderous crowd did not allow any medical attention to be given to the grievously injured Senior Medical Officer and they also prevented the ambulance from reaching him for about an hour. The injured was ultimately rescued by the Magistrate and police at around 5.30 pm and immediately administered first aid. They were then shifted to JMCH for treatment,” the company said.
A bill drafted this year proposed that violence against on-duty doctors may be treated as a non-bailable and cognizable offence. It could attract a jail term of up to ten years, and also a penalty of twice the value of the property damaged.
The provisions of the draft bill say that the punishment will depend on how “simple” or “grievous” the injury is.
The doctor fraternity has been at the receiving end of violence and harassment for years now. In another incident, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, an intern doctor of Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, was brutally beaten up for alleged medical negligence. The incident led to a nationwide doctors’ protest that lasted for several days.
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