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Assam doctors announce strike after 73-year-old colleague beaten to death by tea garden workers

Doctors in Assam have called for a 24-hour “withdrawal of medical services excluding emergency” across the state on Tuesday protesting against the killing of a 73-year-old doctor by the workers of a tea garden in Jorhat district.

Announcing it, the Assam state branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, said the doctors would attend to emergency cases in all hospitals. It demanded exemplary punishment for the culprits and heightened security in all health establishments, including those in tea gardens.

Dr. Deben Dutta, who was serving at the Teok Tea estate, was brutally beaten up by some workers after a youth, Somra Majhi, had died in the garden hospital on Saturday evening. Many of the assailants were born in the hospital where the victim had served for several decades.

So far, 26 people have been arrested by the police in connection with the incident. The district authorities have already ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.

On that fateful day, the grievously-injured doctor was rescued by the police who rushed him to a local hospital. However, as his condition was critical, the doctor there referred him to the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) but he succumbed to his injuries on the way.

This is the third major incident of physical attack on doctors serving in Assam’s tea gardens in recent times.

“We have been compelled to take to the path of protest. The doctors have decided to withdraw services for 24 hours beginning at 6 am tomorrow as a mark of protest against these incidents and failure of the government to provide security to them and take action against the culprits,” Dr. Satyajit Borah, president of IMA’s Assam unit, said.

The state’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has condemned the incident.

“We will not tolerate anybody taking the law into their hands and the district administration has been directed to take immediate action against the culprits,” he tweeted.

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