Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who has just recovered from COVID-19, is facing the ire of government doctors over the suicide of a senior medical officer allegedly due to harassment by an IAS officer.
This incident has brought the doctors and the IAS lobby face-to-face. The medical staff have threatened to boycott work if the IAS officer is not suspended and arrested.
A panicked CM has announced an immediate compensation and an inquiry into the incident. But, the doctors are in no mood to relent.
Dr. Nagendra, a 43-year-old Taluk Medical Officer (TPO) at Nanjanagud in Mysore district, died by suicide on Wednesday due to alleged harassment by the local Zila Panchayat CEO Prashant Kumar Mishra.
Doctors claimed that Mishra was arrogant and abusive, and that he had set COVID-19 test targets for all that were impossible to achieve because of a huge resource crunch. They alleged that the officer used to abuse the deceased doctor and he ended his life as he was unable to take this humiliation beyond a point.
Medical Education Minister Dr. K Sudhakar, who rushed to Mysore to pacify the angry doctors, was booed by lady doctors and was shouted at. They alleged that Sudhakar was trying to hush up the entire incident and refused to listen to him.
They demanded that Mishra should be suspended, arrested and charged with abetment of suicide. The doctors who spoke to News18 feel that state government is endangering the lives of millions during coronavirus crisis by trying to shield an IAS officer.
“We have decided to boycott work. The virus could spread to the entire state. Are these IAS officers above the law? Can they do the work we do? If he is not suspended and arrested, we will not return to work,” said a government doctor who asked News18 not to name her.
Complaints of IAS officers misbehaving with the medical staff is not new in Karnataka. Two weeks ago, deputy commissioner of Bidar district, Ramachandran, was accused of hitting doctors with a stick. Despite Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) demand for his suspension, Yediyurappa took no action allegedly under pressure from the IAS lobby.
“These IAS officers think they are law unto themselves. Instead of supporting and appreciating the efforts of the medical staff in these testing times, they are harassing us. Threatening us with action etc. We want the CM to act quickly and decisively,” said an officer bearer of the IMA.
The current crisis has also exposed many other things. The power tussle between Medical Education Minister Dr. K Sudhakar and Health Minister B Sriramulu has also hampered Karnataka’s fight against coronavirus in the last two months. The CM, overburdened with work, is not in a position to rein in his quarrelling ministers, claim party insiders.
The opposition Congress and JDS have also accused the CM and these two ministers of minting huge amounts of money in the purchase and hire of medical equipment and medicines to fight the virus.
“They have no moral right or face to order their subordinates to behave. Because everyone knows there is a huge scam. Sadly, the medical staff have now become a casualty,” said Dinesh Gundurao, former president of Karnataka state Congress.
Several organizations have extended their support to striking doctors demanding an end to highhandedness of some IAS officers in the state.