Ultrasound clinics in Allahabad, renamed Prayagraj, will shut down between Monday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 18 in protest against the administration sealing the clinic of Dr Madhavi Mittal on specious grounds.
Doctors in the city seem convinced that the raid and the act of sealing was done because of Dr Mittal’s activist husband taking a leading role in the anti-CAA-NPR-NRIC protests continuing at Mansoor Park for the past two months. Dr Mittal’s husband Ashish is an activist and state general secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS).
The clinic has been in operation in the Civil Lines area of Allahabad for the past 30 years and had never been raided before or served with any notice of any kind. But the sudden raid conducted by a team of Health department officials led by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the SDM Sadar, in the absence of Dr Mittal who was out of the city, took the medical fraternity by surprise. No show-cause notice had been served, claimed Ashish Mittal.
The clinic, he says, was raided twice on March 7 and March 8 and sealed. The inspection report of March 7th shows no deficiency in conduct and clearly states that they were told by staff on duty that Dr Madhvi Mittal was out of station for three days. The staff in the clinic showed them the registers and also requested the team to talk to the doctor on phone, which the team refused to do.
The SDM, Sadar, Ajay Narayan Singh claimed that he had only accompanied the team in the capacity of a magistrate on duty. The Dy CMO, Dr A K Tiwari said claimed the team detected “several irregularities in the maintenance of clinic register and violation of other norms”, which he claimed left the team with no option but to seal the clinic pending an inquiry.”
Doctors in the city are not amused though. President of the Allahabad chapter of Indian Medical Association Dr Radha Rani Ghosh pointed out that Dr Mittal enjoyed a high degree of respect in the city. The action of officials, she felt, was arbitrary and unwarranted.
A memorandum was handed over by the IMA to the District Magistrate(DM) and Chief Medical Officer(CMO) informing them that all ultrasound clinics in the city would shut down from Monday, March 16 to March 18 as a mark of protest.
While protestors have been peaceful, activists say that more than 100 protestors have been booked by police for alleged breach of peace and for violating prohibitory orders under section 144. President of Nagrik Samaj, Allahabad and well known lawyer Ravi Kiran Jain said, “ many of these people have been booked for the second time even when the administration itself accepts that the protest and dharna have been peaceful.”
“The accused have filed their reply to the show cause notice, but the magistrate has not taken cognizance of the replies and will in all probability issue warrants of arrest at an opportune time,” he quipped.
He also pointed out that the brother of another protestor Hamza Khalid has also been singled out for harassment. A Madarsa that the protestor’s brother has been running was raided and served notice for not having a fire extinguisher, holding classes on Sundays and for ostensibly appointing a relative as the principal.
Protestors at Mansoor Park however remain unfazed. During the festival of Holi, they braved inclement weather, painted Rangolis and distributed the traditional Gujhiya and Papad.
The convenor Saira Ahmad said, “ We will continue our peaceful protest until our demands are met. We are receiving support from all quarters including lawyers, activists, saints, students and householders who are coming in large numbers and pledging their support. The government has turned a deaf ear to us but one day they will certainly realise the magnitude of the movement and roll back the CAA, NRC and NPR.”