Karnataka: Doctors threaten strike over medical officer's suicide; accuse IAS
On Wednesday, Dr. SR Nagendra, a 43-year-old Taluk Medical Officer at Nanjanagud in Karnataka's Mysuru district, died by suicide at his residence. He had been diligently battling the novel coronavirus pandemic for the past six months. The tragic incident has sparked a huge outrage amongst his colleagues, who have accused an IAS officer of harassment and criticized Chief Minister Yediyurappa for inaction.
Zila Panchayat CEO Prashant Mishra accused of harassment
Dr. Nagendra, who had been staying away from his family out of fear of contracting and spreading the fatal virus, was found dead on Wednesday, August 19. Soon after his death, fellow doctors said that Dr. Nagendra was driven to suicide due to alleged harassment at the hands of the local Zila Panchayat CEO Prashant Kumar Mishra.
CM Yediyurappa has ordered probe into the matter
Doctors claimed Mishra was arrogant and abusive, and had set up such high targets for COVID-19 testing that they were impossible to achieve due to an alleged lack of resources. He was also abusive towards the deceased medical officer, they added. Further, the state government, led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, has ordered to file a report and probe the suicide case.
Monetary compensation, job offered to family of deceased
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh for the family of the deceased. The CM has also offered to give the job of a sub-registrar to the wife of the late medical officer on compassionate grounds, per reports.
Doctors have demanded Mishra's suspension and arrest
Meanwhile, in light of the incident, Medical Education Minister Dr. K Sudhakar rushed to Mysuru to meet the angry doctors, who have been carrying out protests. However, the minister was booed and shouted at. Doctors have demanded that Mishra should be suspended from duty, arrested, and booked for abetment to suicide. They have threatened to boycott work, if their demands are not met.
'Are IAS officers above the law?' asked a doctor
"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," a doctor told News18.
Unfortunately, it is not the first such case
Worryingly, this is not the first time that an IAS officer has been accused of misbehaving with the medical staff in the state. Just two weeks ago, deputy commissioner of Bidar district, namely Ramachandran, had allegedly hit doctors using a stick. Subsequently, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded his suspension. However, no action was taken by the government, reports said.
COVID-19 outbreak in Karnataka
Notably, Karnataka is one of the worst-affected Indian states in the coronavirus outbreak. Thus far, it has reported 2,56,975 total cases, out of which 1,70,381 have been cured/discharged, while 4,429 died.