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Sidhu, Khera visit protesting doctors

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
May 20, 2006 17:17 IST
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Striking doctors in New Delhi got an unexpected boost of support on Saturday, from parliamentarian and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and management guru Shiv Khera. The two joined the doctors, who are protesting the government's decision to give 27 percent reservation to OBCs on Parliament Street.

Sidhu made it clear that he was there in his individual capacity and not as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. His sheer presence electrified the students, who shouted slogans against Human Resource Development minister Arjun Singh and the government.

"I am not against reservation to students from OBCs but those who are seeking to reserve seats must first ensure that weaker sections get proper education and bring them to a level where they are able to compete with others. If committing atrocity is a crime, it is also a crime to bear the atrocity silently when you are on the side of truth. Give reservations but based on the economic criterion," he said.

Students and doctors cheered Sidhu loudly after he recited one poem after another to bloster the morale of the striking doctors.

Khera in his brief speech said that he and his colleagues had no plans to see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "Let those who want to talk to us come and meet us. We are not going to them. I am asking all those who are supporting anti-reservation protests to do it openly and not in a clandestine manner. If this government does not listen to us then it would have to go," he declared, as the crowd cheered him.

Both Sidhu and Khera reiterated that the government should do everything to ensure that children from the backward sections get basic education. "Give them whatever they need. If they have no basic education what can they achieve in life," Khera said.

The striking students and doctors had the Delhi police by surprise when they ended their rally by singing the national anthem, forcing them to join in themselves.

Complete coverage: The reservation issue

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi