Nearly 200 interns at Dhaka Medical College have gone on strike from Thursday to demand justice for an assault on one of their peers.
Doctors are struggling to cope with the work stoppage. However, the emergency department is open and the other departments are continuing to offer their services, according to the hospital’s director.
The victim of the attack, Sajjad Hossain, said that he was studying at the DMC reading room on Monday morning and took a break around 9:30 pm for tea and snacks at the Shaheed Minar when he was confronted by two students wearing Dhaka University T-shirts who asked him his name.
When he identified himself as an intern for Dhaka Medical, they asked to see his ID card. Sajjad had left his bag, which contained the ID card, in the reading room. When he said he did not have it on him, one of the DU students slapped him.
“I told them – ‘do people carry their cards at all times?’ and one of them slapped me. All of a sudden, more of them came up and began to beat me. One of them hit me very hard by the ear. I couldn’t hear anything. They hit me on the face and I began bleeding from the nose. At one point I fell to the ground.”
After beating him for some time, Sajjad says they put him on an autorickshaw. He took the vehicle to the Bakshibazar gate and called his roommate, who helped him to reach the emergency room at the hospital.
“The tests showed that I had burst my eardrum and broken my nose. I received care and returned to my room. The next day, Tuesday, I began having eye trouble as blood pooled in it and turned it red.”
Interns at DMC submitted a letter of protest over the incident to the hospital’s director and deputy director, Dr Maruf Ul Ahsan Shamim, president of the DMC Intern Doctors Council said.
The letter called for an investigation of the incident and for justice to be done. It warned that a work stoppage would begin if the perpetrators were not brought to justice within 48 hours.
“We went to everybody,” he said. “But there was no progress and we were not assured. They haven’t been able to identify a single suspect so far. Having no other choice, we started the strike at noon on Thursday.”
A doctor at the DMCH emergency department, on condition of anonymity, said that there were some difficulties due to the absence of the interns, but they were still trying to continue their work.
“We are having some trouble because they are on strike, but we have to keep the emergency department open. We are doing our best to continue providing services. Our doctors are continuing work undeterred.”
DMCH Director Brig Gen Md Nazmul Haque said the administration is working to resolve the situation.
“Senior members of the administration are in talks with the interns. There has been difficulty identifying the attackers because there were no cameras in the area. We are trying to take action against the perpetrators.”
“We have about 200 intern doctors. Patients suffer when there is a work stoppage. We are continuing work with the doctors we have available.”
The university administration and law enforcers are working together on the issue, said Dhaka University Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani.
“Police informed me of the incident and they have shown the victim some findings from their investigation. That is all I know. If there is any further progress, we will be informed.”
Sajjad has filed a general diary over the incident, said Moudud Howlader, chief of Shahbagh Police Station.
“Two men wearing Dhaka University shirts assaulted Sajjad Hossain without cause,” he said. “Sajjad mentioned in the GD that he did not know the men. However, we have made quite a bit of progress in the investigation. The matter will be resolved quickly.”