After blowing conch shells, ringing bells and cheering to show solidarity with the health care workers for their laudable work to battle Covid-19, there have also been reports when doctors and health care workers have also been pelted with stones by hostile crowds.
As India battles the Covid-19 outbreak, reports of attacks on doctors, social workers and police personnel have surfaced from various parts of India raising concerns for their safety. Although Indian Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan assured people that precautions were taken to prevent doctors from spreading coronavirus, the reality on the ground is completely opposite with doctors being assaulted and thrashed after being initially ostracized by people.
Recently, two female doctors were attacked by a mob in Indore in Madhya Pradesh after they went to check on a woman suspected of contracting the virus. The video of the attack went viral in no time drawing angry reactions from netizens.
One of the doctors injured in the attack, Zakiya Sayed told BBC that she was undeterred by such attacks. “We were doing our usual rounds to screen suspected covid-19 infected cases. We never thought we would be attacked. I had never seen scenes like that. It was frightening. We somehow fled away. I am injured but not scared.”
Dr Sayed further said that she and her colleague had no reason to suspect that people would be angry against medics who were only trying to keep people safe. According to Sayed, they had information about a woman who had come in contact with another coronavirus infected patient. She said that they were only talking to the suspected patient when they came under attack.
Taking cognizance of the incident, the Indore administration sprung into action and booked four men involved in the attack under the National Security Attack. Seven persons were arrested in connection with the incident and another six are being questioned.
In Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, 21 quarantined patients who had attended the recent religious congregation of Tablighi Jamaat that has emerged as a super spreader in India, misbehaved, abused and used obscene language against hospital staff. Some were walking naked in the hospital ward and were harassing women doctors and nurses and kept asking for cigarettes and tobacco, a doctor told the BBC.
Police have registered a case after the doctors filed a complaint. Some other members of the Tablighi Jamaat who are under quarantine at a railway hospital spat at doctors.
However, the incidents are not just restricted northern parts of India, there have been reports of similar misbehaviour and attacks against doctors from other parts of the country.
In Hyderabad, relatives of a 49-year-old coronavirus patient who died at a Gandhi Government Hospital assaulted the duty doctor and the staff alleging negligence, police said. In Bihar, Police and medical personnel were attacked by locals in Munger town when they visited a locality to collect samples from people suspected to have contracted coronavirus.
In Solapur, Maharashtra, a 56-year-old man who had informed the ‘gramsevak’ of Pimpri village about seven locals who attended the Tablighi meet was assaulted. The man had also insisted that the seven people be tested for coronavirus, police said.
Female social workers in southern city Bengaluru and a man in Mumbai were gheraoed and thrashed in separate incidents after they were surveying people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.
Another incident from Bengaluru saw community health workers checking suspect covid-19 cases ruffled up on Thursday. In neighbouring Mangaluru, police registered a case against four persons for assaulting two cops and a health worker.
However, the attacks on doctors have not only happened inside hospital wards or on roads but have followed them home. One of the female doctors who spoke anonymously to the BBC told that her neighbours wanted her and her family to move out of their building.
She said she was extremely disheartened and wanted her family to be safe. Battling covid-19 outbreak on the one hand and social stigma on the other while facing a shortage of medical equipment, she added, “A number of doctors have tested positive across India and that shows how tough our job is at the moment. And that is why we need everybody’s support to win this war against coronavirus.”
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times doctors have also faced eviction from their landlords. In fact, doctors had even written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah demanding protection. But they are not the only ones facing the discrimination even India’s airline staff and police have faced the same problem.