Ever since Coronavirus whistleblower in Wuhan, a doctor, succumbed to it after facing humiliation by authorities, the medical fraternity has been moved all over the world and no wonder India paid rich tribute to them on March 22 as a part of the Janata curfew. But the ovation did not last long when a Chennai doctor who was in the frontline of the Coronavirus fight fell victim and lost his life on Sunday night. His friend and co-doctor Dr K Pradeep Kumar faced the cruel face of a pandemic and ignorance among people.
When neurosurgeon Dr. Simon died of coronavirus, the body of the 55-year-old colleague was brought to the crematorium on Sunday night by Dr. Pradeep and other hospital staff in PPE suits. But a mob gathered on the road leading to the crematorium in front of a theatre and the ambulance was smashed.
The occupants of the ambulance were assaulted with bricks, stones, bottles and sticks and chased away. The body was left in the middle of the road opposite to the theatre. Later, police arrested 20 men but the story tells a different tale altogether.
Undaunted, Dr. Pradeep begged ambulance staff to take the body elsewhere but they were already shaken and in a bad shape to drive. Hence the doctor, along with two ward boys, drove the ambulance himself to another cemetery where there was no crowd. Using only one spade available there, the doctor personally dug the grove along with the help of a policeman and buried the body.
Traumatised about burying his own colleague and friend, Dr. Pradeep says,”such a death should not occur to even our enemies.” This is the narrative of the event that happened from the doctor who was in the frontline. What about other ordinary mortals?
IMA White Alert
Now, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for protests on Wednesday, April 21, demanding that a Special Central Law Against Violence on Doctors be brought in. “IMA has maintained utmost restraint and patience in spite of extreme provocations. Doctors have been abused, beaten up, denied entry and residence. Obstruction to cremation is the last straw that IMA can bear. If dignity is denied even in death, our patience and restraint lose their value. We demand a special Central Law against violence on doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and hospitals by an ordinance,” said a letter issued by the IMA’s National president Dr Rajan Sharma and general secretary Dr R V Asokan.
“This brings out the narrow minded nature of the public and I wonder where these patients will go if all hospitals do not want to treat the COVID patients? We are not God and we also are vulnerable to get the disease but we work inspite of all adverse situations to deserve only this treatment from the public. I don’t think medical profession is considered noble anymore,” says another doctor who is also an official of IMA in Tamil Nadu.
The IMA has issued a white alert for Wednesday 9 pm, april 21, exactly a month after the nation paid tribute to the frontliners. All doctors and hospitals across the country will be lighting candles as a sign of protest.