Doctors’ Double Standards: Silent on Payal Tadvi’s Death, Protest Over Bengal Incident

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Doctors protesting against assault on doctor in West Bengal at AIIMS in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: Mail Today

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — The national body of doctors, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for nationwide protests over the violence against a doctor at NRS Medical College, Kolkata. They have issued a press release asking all its branches to hold a protest in their respective cities and towns, in order to highlight the issue of violence against the doctors. It also directed the members to carry out duties wearing black bandages as a show of solidarity for those on strike in Kolkata.

Doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital went on strike after one of its junior colleagues, Dr. Paribaha Mukherjee was reportedly attacked by a group of 200 people over the death of a septuagenarian patient. As the patient was a Muslim, the BJP body of West Bengal wasted no time in branding the incident a communal color. After the call for nation-wide protest by the association, the issue continues to simmer as many doctors have been submitting their resignations. The number is as high as 108 in NRS itself, and about 43 more from other institutions.

However, many people have questioned the association’s commitment regarding the atrocities perpetrated against doctors, pointing out double-standard approaches of the association on two separate incidents of violence.

Congress leader Sanket Gokhale pointed to the double-standards of the IMA by questioning its silence on the death of 26-year-old Muslim doctor Payal Tadvi, who committed suicide in Mumbai allegedly due to caste harassment from the senior doctors. Tadvi’s parents who belong to Bhil Aadivasi Muslim Community, also professed that she was subjected to caste-based biases by her senior fellow doctors.

Raising the issue on social media, Gokhale said that the IMA turned a blind eye on Tadvi’s death but they are calling for nation-wide protest over an attack on a doctor in Bengal. He said that it is because of casteism and Brahmanism that is rooted among doctors.

“The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has directed members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday. This was in response to the alleged assault on junior doctor Paribaha Mukhopadhyay of NRS Hospital in Kolkata. The same Indian Medical Association (IMA) shockingly turned the other way and remained totally silent when Dr. Payal Tadvi of Nair Medical College faced casteist attacks from fellow doctors and ended her life due to the harassment,” he wrote. His post was shared widely on social media raking up discussions on issues of casteism in the medical fraternity.

“Brahmin savarnas will demonstrate bubbling solidarity with a caveat – it’s only when it concerns one of their own. If you don’t see that as an intrinsic problem (and if you still continue to deny the stranglehold of casteism on institutions), you’re a part of the problem,” he duly adds.

In case of Tadvi’s death, the IMA was even in denial about the caste discrimination meted out to the victim, and it also failed to condemn the caste discrimination among doctors unequivocally, as a whole. Denying the charges, IMA’s Secretary Dr. R.V Ashokan said ‘there is no caste discrimination in Indian medical fields’.

Gokhale also pointed to the silence of the IMA over the death of children in Gorakhpur hospital due to a shortage of oxygen. He feels that the incident in Bengal, followed by a protest by the doctors, is being fomented by the BJP-RSS for political gains.

“The “protest” in West Bengal is a clear BJP-RSS ploy to destabilize the duly elected TMC government of West Bengal. And it’s an utter shame that other Opposition parties are opportunistically using this to score brownie points and playing into the hands of the BJP to ensure their own self-preservation,” Gokhale further added.

Imran Ahmad, a student from Jamia Millia Islamia, called the IMA ‘Indian Manuvadi Association’ over the double-standard approaches of the IMA on these incidents.

“The only idea that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is exhibiting is that Dr. Kafeel Khan and Dr. Payal Tadvi weren’t important enough to call for a strike or protest,” he reportedly wrote on Facebook.

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