HYDERABAD: Unperturbed by government threats and high court strictures, the Telangana Junior Doctors’ Association continued protests against the one-year mandatory rural service norm for the 31st day here Wednesday.
Around 1,000 junior doctors gathered near the Indira Park and staged a protest demanding that the government scrap the one-year mandatory rural service norm as well as government orders and Acts which are not in their best interests.
The Chief Minister’s Office had on Tuesday issued a stern warning to them to either resume service or be debarred for six months. The high court too had directed them to call off the strike immediately.
“While we honour and respect what the high court has suggested, we will not be bogged down by government threats. We will continue our strike until our demands are met,” asserted G Srinivas, TJUDA president.
The junior doctors, who continued their relay hunger strike for the sixth consecutive day, also organised blood donation camps as part of their protest. Daring the government to stifle their voice, Srinivas said, “We will not stop our strike, even if they debar us for six months. We are not concerned about the punishment.”
However, the TJUDA clarified that they were not against serving in rural areas per se but insisted that their opposition was only to GO 107, which makes it mandatory. “We want the government to give us permanent postings and fill vacancies at hospitals. We do not mind voluntary service in rural areas,” Srinivas explained.
Nonetheless, the government refused to budge an inch. “We have adhered to all their demands such as providing protection at hospitals, increasing stipend and so on but we are not willing to scrap the one-year mandatory rural service. The issue is going on and has been discussed in the high court as well. We have made alternative arrangements at all hospitals,” said Suresh Chanda, principal secretary, health and family welfare department.
Chanda assured that the government will fill all vacancies but advised the medicos to be patient. “We will fill the vacancies once the process of bifurcation is completed, because today we don’t know how many vacancies are there! How many people will stay in AP and how many will come to Telangana is still unclear and that process will start only once the division is completed,” he pointed out.
Describing it as a “long process”, Chanda said they will have a better idea by the end of November or the first week of December.
“It is important to note that we are insisting on one-year compulsory government service but it does not necessarily mean they will all be posted in rural areas. In fact, a number of PG students were posted in urban areas. We decide based on the qualification of the doctor. However, all MBBS students must go to rural areas, there are no second thoughts on that,” Chanda said.