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Last Updated: Aug 19th, 2006 - 22:18:38

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Delhi medical students to continue anti-quota strike
Apr 28, 2006, 01:23, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"We do not want to trouble the people unnecessarily but we would be forced to take extreme steps and intensify our agitation if the government does not listen to our demands,"

Students of four medical colleges here Thursday decided to continue their stir against a government proposal to hike reservation seats, even as Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh assured them that the matter will be considered after the assembly polls in five states.

"We met the minister and he assured us that he would speak to the prime minister after the assembly elections are over. We have been asked to give them (government) time till May 11 so that the government could discuss the issue," said Aatish Kumar, a doctor of the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) who was part of the delegation.

The minister assured the students that he would raise the issue before the cabinet after the ongoing elections in five states were over as he was bound by the Election Commission's code of conduct.

On April 5, Arjun Singh had declared that the government was planning to reserve 27 percent of seats for other backward classes (OBCs) in 20 central universities, the Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institutes of Technology and other central government funded institutions.

Arjun Singh also apologised to the students for the police action against them Wednesday. Over 400 medical students had clashed with police after they were denied a meeting with the minister a day before.

The minister said that he was always open to meeting students and would meet them prior to raising the issue before the cabinet, according to the students.

Kumar said: "The doctors and the interns have decided to resume work in the hospitals so as not to cause inconvenience to people but all students would remain on strike till May 11. The future course of action would only be decided after the government comes out with its decision on the issue.

"We do not want to trouble the people unnecessarily but we would be forced to take extreme steps and intensify our agitation if the government does not listen to our demands," he added.

Kumar added that this time only the outpatient departments (OPDs) were on strike but all hospitals might stop work after May 11.

"We have also decided to boycott our ongoing examination to take part in the strike. If the government does not want to give us enough opportunities then there is no point for us to study hard and take examinations," said
Soumyendro Chaterjee of the University College of Medical Science (UCMS).

The students of Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College, Lady Harding Medical College and University College of Medical Science (UCMS) are taking part in the strike.

The strike did not cover the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where the flow of patients is very high, but protestors said its doctors and students were wearing black badges in support of the strike.

"Students from Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Karntaka have also joined our agitation and we expect more students to come forward as the days progress," said Shewta Sardana of Lady Harding Medical College.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police deployed personnel in huge numbers outside Arjun Singh's Akbar Road residence and at the India Gate where the students were holding protest demonstrations.

- Indo-Asian News Service

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