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Prime Minister Asks Medicos to End Strike

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the striking medicos to end strike and promised that the matter will be solved in an amicable way and the students// should have faith in his government. This is his first direct intervention in the on-going protest against reservation for OBCs.

His appeal came on a day of hectic developments on the reservation front when the Group of Ministers, constituted by him, submitted its report to him.

One of the plans is to increase the number of seats in the higher professional institutions.

However sources have indicated that an additional Rs.8000 Crores will be required to increase the number of seats in medical and other professional institution.

Meanwhile, the condition of medicos on hunger strike deteriorated as their stir entered the eighth day today. "Twenty students, on hunger strike since Sunday last, will be replaced by others following deterioration in their condition," said Dr Sasmit Sarangi, a representative of the 'Youth for Equality'.

AIIMS Resident Doctors Association President Vinod Patra told PTI that doctors had received notices to vacate hostels by tomorrow.

"We have decided to ignore notices from the AIIMS administration," he said.

The strikers said they were ready to be flexible on their demands but were unhappy with the stand taken by government.

"In the last three meetings, the government has just talked about increasing the number of seats," a medico said.

Moreover, the government was maintaining complete silence on the demand for an expert committee to review the existing reservation policy, he said.

In Haryana and Punjab the protest by medicos against the Centre's quota-hike proposal continued today even as parallel OPDs were run by doctors bringing relief to scores of patients facing hardships in the wake of strike by residents.

"At the parallel OPDs the doctors are examining al l patients," said Dr. Anand Vineykar of the 'Youth for Equality' - spearheading the protests.

However, officials maintained that the critical areas, including emergencies, OTs and ICUs, continued to be managed by consultants at various state-run hospitals in the region, including the Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research here.

A six-member committee has been constituted comprising representatives of elite medical colleges of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh to coordinate with members of AIIMs, PGIMER Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) president Dr Jaspreet Singh told PTI here.

The committee members would work on a "common charter of demands" to be taken up by the protesting medicos with the Union Government, he said.

He said the committee members would go to Delhi tomorrow to join the AIIMS members to chalk out future course of action.

The medicos strike seems to have reached a stalemate. The appeal of the Prime Minister to the medicos should be followed by some assurance on the methodology of preserving interests of all classes of the community.

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