At least 300 homeopathy students of Swahid Jadav Nath Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital (SJHMC) in the city have continued their protests for more than a week now against the government for their long pending demands.
Apart from Guwahati, the students of two other homeopathy medical colleges of the state in Jorhat and Nagaon have also joined the protest at their respective colleges.
The current as well as former students have locked down the main gate of the three college buildings and have been conducting an indefinite dharna which entered its seventh consecutive day on March 9.
The protesting homeopathy students informed G Plus that they will continue the lockdown of colleges and will also further intensify their protest in the coming days if the government does not respond to their demands.
All classes have been suspended in the colleges since March 3 due to the ongoing protests.
The protests were triggered after state health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma remarked that homeopathic doctors are not appointed in government health centres owing to a lack of demand by the public.
Students strongly condemned the remark and held a demonstration at Dispur Last Gate from February 26 to 28.
Here, the police allegedly resorted to lathi charge on the protesters in which some of the students were also injured, informed students. Following this, the students locked down the college gates and began the indefinite dharna.
The protesters have also filed an FIR with the Dispur police station against the lathi charge and manhandling of female students.
“We have also lodged a complaint at the state human rights commission against police personnel for manhandling female students,” said Ravi Kumar, a student of SJHMC.
Lack of infrastructure plaguing colleges
The agitating students have been demanding for basic infrastructural facilities in their colleges. They have submitted a memorandum to the health and family welfare minister and complained of the government’s apathy towards them.
“There is a shortage of staff in all the colleges while some departments do not even have a single teacher. The colleges lack hostel facilities for students and the buildings are also in a poor shape,” said Anichur Rahman, general secretary of All Assam Homeopathy Medical College Students’ Union (AAHMCSU).
He further informed that the in-patient department in the government hospitals are not in proper condition and the emergency services too need to be strengthened.
The protesters and the doctors who have passed out from colleges have complained that several Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery (BHMS) doctors currently remain unemployed due to the government’s negligence.
Students also lamented the lack of availability of a post graduate course in homeopathy in the state due to which the students have to shift to other states to pursue the PG course.
Additionally, the students have requested the government for the introduction of a course on emergency life saving drugs for BHMS students. They feel that this course will prove instrumental in helping them to serve in emergencies and to save the lives of patients.
“There has been no appointment of medical officer (homeopathy) under the Assam Public Service Commission since 1995 and only 350 doctors have been recruited so far under the National Health Mission,” said Kumar.
They say that even though homeopathy is an integral part of the ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) ministry, homeopathy doctors do not receive any benefits or placement opportunities.
‘Govt not paying any heed to our demands,’ say students
Homeopathy students alleged that the government has not been paying any attention to their demands.
“We have not received any response from the government despite having submitted the memorandum of demands to the concerned authorities several days ago,” remarked Rahman.
He added that they are waiting for the government to respond and hold talks with the students.
Further, patients have also been suffering due to lack of treatment since the hospitals have also been shut down as part of the protests.
The government homeopathy hospitals in Guwahati, Nagaon and Jorhat have been turning down patients in the wake of these protests.