Motihari: Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has again waded into a controversy by warning doctors that their “hands would be chopped off” if they didn’t work and discharge their duty honestly.
“Jo gareebo ke saath khelwar karenge unka hum haath kaat lenge (Those who play with the lives of the poor will have their hands chopped off),” Manjhi said this evening while addressing a gathering after inaugurating a six-bed hospital at Pakridayal, 22km east of Motihari town in East Champaran district and 184km northeast of Patna.
The chief minister’s scathing and startling remark came while he was complaining about the absence of doctors employed in government hospitals.
Manjhi said that doctors often stay away from duty at the cost of a large number of poor patients who visit the hospitals every day in the hope of receiving good treatment. Instead, the patients and their relatives often have to return disappointed as the doctors are missing, often for hours, the chief minister said.
Manjhi pointed out that he had not hesitated in suspending doctors of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) when he found them missing from duty.
The chief minister’s statement comes at a time when controversial Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav has already announced an agitation against doctors for allegedly “fleecing” poor patients.
Pappu has even asked his supporters to use physical power against doctors in the Kosi region. Organisations representing doctors of the state have already protested against the MP’s “threats” against the medical fraternity.
Listeners present at the chief minister’s meet in Pakridayal today were stunned to hear his remarks against doctors, stating that they smacked of “medieval barbarity”.
“We were shocked that a chief minister could talk of cutting hands of doctors. This smacks of medieval justice meted out by barbarians,” said a resident, who requested anonymity.
Dr D. Nath, the president of the East Champaran district unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), condemned such a derogatory comment, that too from the chief minister. Nath said that no law or the Constitution of India gave permission for such lawlessness under which anyone could be allowed to “chop off” someone’s hand.
Former general secretary of IMA, Dr C.B. Singh, said he would take up the issue with the party (read Janata Dal-United) leadership and demand proper action against those who have lost control over their “thought and action”. Doctors would also demonstrate and take out rallies if the issue was not sorted out amicably, he said.
Local JDU leaders sought to defend Manjhi. They argued that the chief minister was speaking on social reforms and his intention was not to be derogatory towards doctors. Manjhi could not properly articulate his thoughts, said Binod Prasad Shrivastava, a local JDU leader of East Champaran.
The Bihar chief minister has already made a name for himself for flip-flops in public discourse.
“The chief minister must learn how to select his words while he is making a public statement,” said a JDU leader, insisting that what Manjhi meant was strict action would be taken again errant doctors.
However, the CM clarified his remarks by saying, " They should have knowledge about Hindi idioms, chopping off hands means restricting rights."