The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed a legislation to address the issue of violence against healthcare professionals and damage to property of clinical establishments across the country. The news comes after 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.

Doctors on several occasions went on an indefinite strike all over India as they were assaulted and attacked by family members of the patients. In Delhi last week two resident doctors at Safdarjung Hospital were thrashed by attendants of a family member who had passed away at the hospital. A legislation titled “The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of violence and damage to property) Bill, 2019” has been prepared.

“It has been decided to solicit objections and suggestions from public with regard to said draft legislation before the finalisation of the draft Bill,” the ministry said. The objections/suggestions may be forwarded within 30 days from the date of issue of this notice.

The move came after a senior doctor Deben Dutta was thrashed to death in Assam. 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.

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 6am 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.