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Doctors in arms

It was intended to be a silent protest against Saturday's police action on medical students. But as doctors from all over Mumbai gathered at the city's Azad Maidan on Monday afternoon, the megaphone was on and blaring with defiant cries of 'lathi charge shuro karo'.

Constables stood around desultorily and television cameras rolled on as one senior doctor after another took to the stage, speaking out against the incident.

On Saturday, doctors and medical students had gathered outside the Raj Bhavan at Walkeshwar in south Mumbai to protest the proposed increase in reservation quotas in private and public institutions. The police lathi-charged the gathering, caning nearly 100 of the 300 protestors and arresting 130 of them.

After visuals of the incident were shown on television, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil ordered an inquiry, demanding a report from Mumbai's Police Commissioner A N Roy within seven days. The Indian Medical Association, however, has asked for a judicial probe into the incident and has said it will approach the National Human Rights Commission.

"We don't want false promises. If they want to lathi-charge again, they can," shouted J Lalmalani, an ex-president of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors. A rousing cry of support rent the hot noon air.

Reportage: Chinmayee Manjunath | Photographs: Jewella C Miranda

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