May 22, 2021 2:08:41 am
As many as 95 doctors, nurses, medical officers and administration staff under the National Health Mission (NHM) have been booked under eight FIRs filed at eight police stations in Gandhinagar on Thursday after they allegedly went on a strike from May 17 demanding a wage hike during cyclone Tauktae, ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as epidemic mucormycorsis.
According to police, the FIRs were lodged after senior officials of the health department gave complaint saying the protesting medical officers violated an order by the secretary of Health and Family Welfare department in Gandhinagar that prohibited health staff from going on strike, taking leave, prohibiting work of others or instigating others for strike from May 17 in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae.
The 95 booked include doctors, nurses, programme managers, programme assistants, women health workers, finance officers, accountants and data entry operators who were working at Civil Hospital in Gandhinagar, sector 17 Gandhinagar based NHM headquarters and primary health centres in Gandhinagar, Chiloda, Dahegam, Kalol, Rakh-iyal, Pethapur, Adalaj and Santej.
They have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 188 for disobedience to order given by public servant and 269 for negligent act likely to spread infection of a disease along with section 56 of Disaster Management Act for failure of officer in duty and section 51A for obstructing officers of state government from discharge of their duties.
All the eight FIRs mention complaints made by senior officials under NHM and state health department. “The following mentioned officials despite a clear notification order prohibiting the from going on leave, going on a strike, obstructing others from work and instigating others, the protesting medical staff continued their strike and did not report to duty despite attempts made to contact them on phone by their senior officials. By their failure to report to duty, the officials have caused problem in the working of the state government during Cyclone Tauktae, epidemic Mucormycosis and pandemic Coronavirus and common public and patients may had to face difficulties (sic),” the complaint stated.
As per the FIRs that were accessed by The Indian Express, as many as 23 staff nurses at civil hospital in Gandhinagar were booked in an FIR at Sector 7 police station, 35 doctors, program assistants, women health workers, pharmacists, finance officers and accountants were booked at Sector 21 police station, five nurses in Santej police station, eight doctors and 15 programme assistants, nurses and accountants at Dahegam police station, two staff in Pethapur police station, five staff in Kalol taluka PS, one in Rakhiyal PS and one in Adalaj PS.
According to officials, the strike was called by NHM Contractual Workers Union, which has 5,000 contractual staff of NHM under it in 21 cities of Gujarat.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a spokesperson for the NHM Contractual Workers Union said, “The staff at NHM are on a 11-month contract and our demand for better wage has been going on for the past one-and-a-half years. In October 2020, we held a series of symbolic protests and demanded an increment for all contractual staff, after which meetings were set up with NHM director… We were assured that the issue will be sorted at the earliest. However, six months passed and there was no progress…”
“On May 4 this year, we gave a notice to the NHM director that we would hold symbolic protests and then strike work if our demands are not met. On May 12, 13 and 14, we went to work wearing black badges as a mark of protest. Then we called for a strike on May 16, 17 and 18, and on May 19, we returned to duty. However, now our members are facing multiple FIRs lodged on May 20… We are in talks to quash the FIRs as we have already resumed duty,” the spokesperson said.
A senior police officer in Gandhinagar said, “The complaints in writing were given to the eight police stations simultaneously as per orders from the NHM, Gujarat government. We have not made any arrests yet.”
NHM Gujarat director MA Pandya did not comment despite multiple calls and messages.
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