Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh is one of the premier and oldest medical institutes of the North East region of India. However, its presence in recent news has been for an entirely different reason which is surely a blot on its history. The gruesome murder of a young doctor in the institution’s ICU (doctor’s resting room) that too, on duty, has not only created a shock wave in the nation, but also led to the revelation of certain bone-chilling lapses in the security of doctors’ lives at their work places.
The accused, who has reportedly confessed to the murder, was appointed without any background check. The person, it has been alleged, is a known criminal! This is highly condemnable. In a country where there is a huge lag in the doctor-patients ratio, such a barbaric crime puts the entire medical world in such dark shade that it might act as a deterrent to future aspirants of the noble profession. Especially given the alleged failed attempt of rape which drove the criminal to take the young doctor’s life, the inadequacy in measures towards safety of doctors especially female doctors is glaring. Not only is this a case of alleged attempted rape, it is a murder, at the work place.
The government and police have been brought to their toes by the solidarity expressed by the entire medical fraternity across the nation. But whose fault is it really? The question has several answers. The Junior Doctors’ Association, which is spearheading the protests and strikes against this incident, has rightly demanded an “exemplary punishment” to the accused, stepped up security within the campus, proper installation of CCTV cameras for round the clock surveillance, and police re-verification of all ward boys and lower grade staff with fresh identity cards being issued to them.
In spite of personal assurances by the Health Minister himself, the striking doctors refused to call off the agitation, which is definitely building pressure on the government. The need of the hour for the medical world is then to maintain the solidarity and further joint effort to ensure that justice is delivered after digging to the roots of the incident and all those people who are directly or indirectly at fault are punished. The dreams, the future and the potent welfare of the society at large through the contributions of a bright young doctor were all wiped out. This incident, while being condemned, needs to be taken as a nasty reminder of the need for better governance and surveillance, the need to ensure that female doctors especially should not be allotted night duty alone, but most importantly the need to create the safe environment necessary for doctors, irrespective of their gender, to deliver their responsibilities without any fear of harm — mental or physical.