SMS Medical College, Jaipur: How goat masks, mass rallies helped revoke suspension of PG medicos

On April 13, the residents on strike protested by burning effigies. On April 14, the residents wore masks with a goat's face imprinted on it and staged a rally symbolising scapegoatism
Picture of resident doctors on strike.
Picture of resident doctors on strike.(Source)

Indeed, it is the victory for protesting residents at Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The strike was called off on April 14 around 8 pm after suspension orders issued to three residents were withdrawn. The three residents belonged to the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 

Speaking to EdexLive, the Jaipur Association Of Resident Doctors' (JARD) President Dr Rajesh Kumawat informed that the residents have resumed their duties which were suspended as a part of the strike. 

Giving more details, Kumawat said that three residents were suspended on April 4, after a woman delivered a baby in the open outside Kanwatia Hospital on April 3. Condemning this, resident doctors of all government hospitals attached to SMS Medical College participated in the strike and took out rallies while they posed wearing goat masks on their faces, highlighting that they have been victims of alleged scapegoatism. 

Effigy burning, goat mask rallies and poetry
Giving more details about the week-long protests, JARD’s Media Spokesperson Dr Bharat Pareek said that their meetings with Principal Dr Rajeev Bagarhatta, Health Minister Rajendra Choudhary, and other officials were in vain hence, they started a strike on April 8, suspending all duties. 

“From April 9, JLN Medical College, Ajmer, Rajasthan was completely shut down by residents. Additionally, from April 13, all residents from Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota, Bikaner and Jhalawar had suspended their duties and participated in the strike,” Pareek said, adding that they all feared that any resident could fall prey to such incidents in the future. 

“Residents worked as per the protocol, they cannot be punished,” Prateek opined.

On April 13, the residents on strike protested by burning a effigy. On April 14, the residents wore goat-faced masks and staged a rally. The metaphor here is that the students claim that following the incident on April 3 at Kanwatia Hospital, the three PG medicos were suspended only because they were easy scapegoats. While the fault, the students alleged, was administrative in nature. 

Residents wear goat masks during strike.
Residents wear goat masks during strike.(Source)
Strike rally on April 14.
Strike rally on April 14.(Source)

The week-long protest strike, which began on April 8, garnered support from several medical associations highlighting the concerns like the alleged victimisation of residents. These are the associations which extended their support to the protesting residents:
FORDA: Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association
FAIMA: Federation of All Indian Medical Association
UDFA: United Doctors Front Association
IMA: Indian Medical Association
ARISDA: All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association

Relief Day
Pareek told EdexLive, “On April 14, around 7 pm, there was a meeting with the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Shubhra Singh which resulted in the suspension being revoked. After the meeting around 8 pm, the strike was called off,” he added.  

The JARD president recalled that in another incident, two months ago, two residents were suspended. “It had been 50 days since the two residents were suspended. The investigation is not completed yet. Who is responsible for their academic loss?” questioned Pareek.

According to the official notice issued by the department on April 14, the suspension of two residents issued in February has been withdrawn as well. 

Official notice
The notice issued by Jagjit Singh Monga, Joint Secretary to Government which EdexLive has access to read, “On the basis of the report of the investigation committee constituted by the Principal and Controller regarding wrong blood transfusion to the patient in Sawai Mansingh Hospital, Jaipur, vide order of even number dated 23.02.2024 of this department, Dr Risham Chalana, In Service Resident, (Orthopaedics) ) Medical College, Jaipur and Dr. Daulat Ram, In Service Resident (Transfusion Medicine) Medical College, Jaipur were kept awaiting orders.”

“Charge sheets have been issued against the above two doctors for disciplinary action. Therefore, permission is hereby granted to Dr Rishabh Chalana, In Service Resident (Orthopedics) and Dr Daulat Ram, In Service Resident (Transfusion Medicine) to join the course in Medical College, Jaipur with immediate effect,” it added.

Residents not accountable
However, the question which might haunt the medical fraternity in the long term is — why does it take protests, doctors taking to the streets, suspending duties and other such desperate measures to safeguard the resident doctors?

Although residents are joyful that the suspension has been revoked, all they urge is that they should not be victimised for no fault of theirs. Pareek said, “Whenever such incidents occur, they should be investigated thoroughly and residents should not be the only ones held responsible.”

“Residents work under a trainee and professor. They don’t even admit a patient without their trainer’s permission. Therefore, it is a hierarchy and one cannot be individually held accountable,” he added.

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