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Everyone should have access to medical care

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Does it matter if an injured person is a protester or a policeman or a bystander? Do the wounded deserve medical treatment regardless of their words, actions, job profile or political beliefs? In normal times, most people do not ask such questions because the answer is clearly “yes”, and that “everybody deserves access to medical care”.

But these are abnormal times in India, when the most basic humanitarian principles need to be reiterated and reaffirmed. The ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) have led to deaths, detentions, darkness and despair among millions of people. It has also released police brutality and citizen energy on a scale not seen in recent times.

Last week, in a strongly-worded public statement, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has over three lakh members, said: “No violence is acceptable in a hospital. Hospitals are sacrosanct. Everyone has the right of access to medical care… The government and the establishment have no right to deny anyone their right of access” to medical care.

The immediate trigger for that statement were ground reports and video footage from areas that have seen protests against the CAA-NRC. A particularly disturbing example was from Mangaluru in Karnataka. CCTV footage shows policemen barging into a private hospital, chasing people inside, trying to forcibly open a room by kicking it repeatedly and by using lathis. A demonstrator with gunshot wounds was undergoing surgery, two more had been brought dead to the hospital, its management told the media. Relatives of the injured person have told........

© Deccan Chronicle