At least six children have reportedly died due to lack of medical aid at a government hospital in Hyderabad as doctors continued Monday a flash strike demanding suspension of a legislator for allegedly attacking them.
The situation took a serious turn at the Niloufer Children's Hospital with the children's death. The parents of the children alleged that they died due to lack of medical care. The condition of several children is stated to be critical.
Mothers of the dead children were seen wailing over the bodies while the angry parents of the seriously ill clashed with security personnel and staff members. Those who can afford treatment in private hospitals hurriedly moved their loved ones.
More than 250 junior doctors of the Niloufer, joined by their counterparts from other government-run hospitals in the city, spent the night on the road demanding that the police file an attempt to murder case against Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Afsar Khan and also his suspension from the assembly.
They were proceeding towards assembly building to demand the legislator's suspension when the police stopped them. The protestors sat there throughout the night and continued their protest Monday, throwing traffic out of gear in the heart of the city.
The trouble began at the hospital on Sunday when Afsar Khan and MIM activists attacked duty doctors for the alleged delay in giving treatment to a child.
According to the doctors, Junaid Khan, a MIM activist, admitted his one-year-old daughter as she was suffering from respiratory problem. Angry over the alleged delay in treatment of the baby, Junaid and his relatives reportedly created a ruckus. Police arrested Junaid on a complaint by the doctors.
After learning about the detention of Junaid, the legislator went to the hospital and asked the doctors to withdraw the case. When doctors refused to oblige, he and his supporters started abusing them and reportedly manhandled them.
Afsar Khan, who was also involved in the attack on controversial Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen at a function here in August, and one of his supporters were arrested late Sunday night but were later released on bail.
The legislator, who was booked for assault, criminal intimidation and insulting the modesty of women, denied that he and his supporters attacked any doctor. He said they were only trying to persuade them to withdraw case against MIM worker.
Minister for Medical Services Galla Aruna Kumari and Minister for Labour Mukesh Goud met the protesting junior doctors and urged them to withdraw the strike. Both promised the doctors that they would facilitate a meeting with assembly speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy so that they can place their demand before him.
But the doctors refused to budge unless the speaker came to meet them. "We will not attend to duties till the MIM MLA is booked for attempt to murder and round-the-clock security is provided in the hospital," Junior Doctors Association state president G. Raju said.
The protest is spreading to other parts of the state with junior doctors at a government-run hospital in Warangal boycotting the medical services to express solidarity with their counterparts in Niloufer.
The junior doctors' association has threatened to make it a state-wide agitation if the legislator was not suspended. Meanwhile, Hyderabad district collector Chandravadan denied that any child due to lack of medical aid.
"Many children are brought to the hospital in serious condition and they may have died," he said. Senior doctors from other hospitals were being called to attend to patients at Niloufer.