A 73-year-old doctor of a tea estate in Assam’s Jorhat district succumbed to his injuries after being allegedly assaulted by a mob of 250 garden workers following the death of one of their colleagues who was undergoing treatment at a hospital in the plantation.
The incident occurred at Teok tea estate on Saturday.
“Deben Dutta, the garden doctor, was assaulted following the death of one Somra Majhi who was undergoing treatment at the estate’s hospital,” a statement by Jorhat district Deputy Commissioner Roshni Aparanji Korati said.
Korati said that tea garden workers had gheraoed the hospital and Dr Dutta had to be rescued by the police. He was shifted to Jorhat Medical College and Hospital where he died while undergoing treatment.
According to reports, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case.
Sukra Majhi, the 33-year-old worker, was taken to the hospital in a critical state around noon on Saturday. At the time, Dr Dutta was not at the hospital and the pharmacist was also on leave. The nurse on duty administered saline. The worker died shortly afterwards.
When Dutta returned, the agitated workers thrashed him and locked him up in a hospital room.
The senior-most doctor in Jorhat, Dr Dutta had retired long ago and had involved himself in the service of his community.
Meanwhile, a magisterial inquiry has been ordered and Additional Deputy Commissioner Subhan Gowalla has been asked to submit a report in seven days.
Follow-up action into the incident has been initiated and the situation was under control, Jorhat district Deputy Commissioner said.
Teok Tea Estate is a tea garden under Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd, an enterprise carved out of Tata Tea Ltd.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has condemned the incident, describing it as ‘unfortunate’.
“We will not tolerate anybody taking the law into their hands and the district administration has been directed to take immediate action against the culprits,” the minister said on his twitter handle.
Assam Valley Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations also condemned the incident.
“Mindless and murderous assault perpetrated on the Medical Officer of Teok tea estate while he was on duty in the estate hospital,” it said. The Assam Valley CCPA has demanded strict action against the guilty.
Junior Doctors of the Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh held a candle march on Sunday, protesting against the killing of the elderly doctor.
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association has called a strike, including withdrawal of emergency services, on Tuesday.
Doctors in Assam on Sunday had called for a 24-hour ‘withdrawal of medical services excluding emergency’ across the state on September 3 in protest against the gruesome act.
Doctors will withdraw their services from 6 am but the emergency in all hospitals will remain open, President of the Assam State Branch of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Satyajit Borah said.
Borah said the assault on Dutta is the third major incident of physical attack on doctors serving in tea gardens and the number of such incidents is increasing.