Kerala doctor murder: Outraged medical bodies stage protest


Kollam/Thiruvananthapuram: Angry medical professionals came out on the streets protesting after a 22-year-old doctor was stabbed to death by a patient she was treating on Wednesday.

Condemning the attack, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) termed the incident as unfortunate and sad.

In a statement issued by KGMOA’s president Dr T N Suresh, the union of government medical professionals said all services except emergency treatment will be suspended today in Kollam district.

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It sought exemplary punishment for those responsible for the incident and demanded that stringent measures be put in place to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

KGMOA also urged the government to strengthen security in hospitals, ensure due precautions are taken when bringing the accused in custody for medical examination and urgently implement a triage system.

An IMA official said that doctors and nurses try their best to save lives but if their lives are in jeopardy, what should be done. “Such incidents should not happen. We (doctors) cannot continue working in such circumstances. It is unacceptable that our lives are in danger when we are trying to save lives. We had in the past too indicated our objections to such attacks on medical professionals. We are angry and sad over the incident,” he said.

Dr Vandana Das (22) was stabbed to death by Sandeep (42) while she was attending him in Kerala on Wednesday. Sandeep was brought there by police after being involved in a fight with his family members.

She was attending to Sandeep when suddenly he fatally attacked her with a pair of surgical scissors and a scalpel on her head, neck and chest.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the death of the doctor and said the incident was “shocking and extremely painful”. He said a thorough investigation will be conducted in the matter.

“Assaulting health workers in the line of duty is unacceptable. A thorough investigation will be conducted into the incident. The government will take strong action against attacks on doctors and health workers,” Vijayan said in a statement.

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission, based on media reports of the incident, on its own initiated a case and sought a report within seven days from the District Police Chief of Kollam.

The incident kicked off a political row over Health Minister Veena George’s statement before the media that the victim was a house surgeon and therefore, inexperienced and got scared when the attack occurred.

Criticising her statement, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K Sudhakaran questioned what the minister meant by the doctor being inexperienced.

“Does she mean the doctor was inexperienced to counter or defend against an attack by a man addicted to drugs and alcohol? The statement is a joke,” he told reporters.

Condoling the death of the doctor, Sudhakaran said it was sad and unfortunate that something like this happened.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and senior Congress leader V D Satheesan said the doctor’s murder has shaken the entire Kerala society.

He contended that it was a dangerous situation that hospitals are not safe places and alleged that the doctor was killed due to “negligence of the police”.

Education Minister V Sivankutty also condoled the death and said it was a shocking incident. He said the government will take all necessary steps under the law including departmental action against the accused, who is a school teacher.

The state government came under fire from the Congress and the BJP with both parties alleging that it has done little to ensure safety of healthcare workers at their workplaces.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan, while expressing shock and concern over the tragic incident, contended it was a shame that doctors and healthcare workers were not safe in Kerala.

He alleged that the “apathy and callousness” of the Pinarayi Vijayan government and its “misgovernance” was tarnishing the image of the state and bringing disrepute to it.

“Shocked to learn about the brutal murder of Dr Vandana Das and attack on hospital staff in Kottarakkara. Atrocious that dreaded criminals are cut loose, endangering the lives of life savers. Deeply concerned about the safety of doctors and healthcare workers in Kerala.

“Shame that doctors and healthcare workers are not safe in Kerala, which is a renowned global destination for medical tourism and has a rich legacy of various streams of medicine and healthcare. The apathy and callousness of @pinarayivijayan and the misgovernance of @CPIMKerala is tarnishing that image and bringing disrepute to the State. It’s a disgrace that @pinarayivijayan government can’t keep our doctors safe,” he tweeted.

Speaking along similar lines, Satheesan alleged it was deplorable that the state government has done little to ensure safety of healthcare workers.

He said there were widespread problems in the health department and in each case only inquiries were announced and beyond that nothing else happened.

The Congress leader attacked George too by saying that the minister had ordered the “most number of investigations in the state’s history”.

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( With inputs from )

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