The police in central Assam’s Hojai district have arrested 24 people for assaulting a doctor at a COVID-19 Care Centre (CCC).
A mob assaulted Seuj Kumar Senapati, the doctor, and other staff of the Udali CCC on Tuesday besides damaging the healthcare facility. A video on the incident circulated via social media showed the mob kicking and hitting the doctor on his head with medical equipment with one person also fishing out a knife.
Two others, including a woman, were also injured in the attack.
The attackers had alleged negligence by the doctor and his medical team for the death of one Giyasuddin who was admitted to the CCC after testing COVID-19 positive.
“The relatives told me the patient was serious but when I examined his health condition, I found him to be already dead. Soon, they started vandalising the hospital furniture and attacking me,” Dr. Senapati said.
It was his first day of service.
“We are taking the physical assault incident on Dr. Senapati of Udali Hospital very seriously. He’s fighting the pandemic at the frontline, so any assault on him is like assaulting all the frontline workers,” State’s Director-General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said.
He added that the 24 arrested included a woman and the main perpetrators of the attack before dawn on Wednesday.
“I am personally monitoring the investigation [into the assault] and I promise that justice will be served,” Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
The outpatient department at the Gauhati Medical College Hospital and other government healthcare facilities were closed from 8 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Wednesday to protest the Udali incident.
“We have not touched emergency services besides limiting the closure of the OPD in order not to cause inconvenience to the patients beyond a certain point,” a member of a doctors’ association said.
He reminded the government of the Assam Medical Protection Act framed during the term of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led coalition government. “This Act needs to be implemented at the earliest for protection of hospitals and the lives of healthcare workers,” he said.
The Indian Medical Association has condemned the assault on Dr. Senapati and others at the Udali CCC.