Daily US Times: An Indian doctor named Dr Sudhakar Rao, who was suspended after raising concerns about masks shortage is again in the spotlight. BBC reports that Indian officials committed the doctor to a mental hospital. Dr Rao, an anaesthetist with 20 years of experience, became the national spotlight over the weekend for the second time in two months.
A series of videos that went viral on social media show him and police facing off on a highway in the southern city of Visakhapatnam, where he lives and works.
Authorities say Dr Rao was sent to a mental hospital after.
There are many other incidents are being reported of Indian doctors facing a backlash after speaking out about shortages of protective gear or lack of preparation in hospitals.
What happened to Dr Rao?
The videos that went viral on several social media platforms show a confusing chain of events from Saturday.
Dr Rao is first seen shirtless, sitting inside his car by the side of the road, and screaming at police, but in another video, he is lying on the road with his hands tied behind his back as a constable hits him with a baton.
Police said the constable has been suspended and an inquiry is pending.
In what is likely to be the last video, police officers bundle the doctor into an auto rickshaw in front of bewildered onlookers.
But Dr Rao spoke to local journalists before he was taken away, Dr Rao spoke to local journalists.
He said he had been stopped and forced out of the car by the policemen.
He alleged: “They snatched my phone and wallet. They hit me.” The insident has sparked huge controversy. Lots of people criticised the state government’s handling of the situation. The opposition parties have weighed in, accusing the police of excessive force.
Dr Rao’s case is especially contentious because he was already under suspension and under people’s radar.
Why was he suspended?
Dr Rao, who works at a government hospital, told media on 3 April that doctors weren’t being given adequate protective gowns and masks.
He said he had just been asked to leave a meeting with officials where he had raised the concerns about protective equipment.
He said in front of television reportes: ”We are told to use the same mask for 15 days before asking for a fresh mask. How can we treat patients risking our lives?”
The clip then went viral.
The government ordered an inquiry, but also suspended the doctor. Officials said, by going public instead of filing a formal complaint, he had damaged the morale of other health care workers.
Days later, Dr Rao apologised in a video and asked for his suspension to be cancelled, but the government did not respond.
Ever sisnce speaking out about the lack of protective equipment in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, he and his family alleged that he has been harassed.
On Sunday, he said: “People are threatening me over the phone for the past few days.”
His mother, Kaveri Rao, told that he had no mental health issues.
She said: “He is a reputed doctor. But he has been facing abuse since the day he raised those concerns. I feel bad when people call me and ask about him. He has been very stressed for weeks.”
What is the official account?
Police say they got a report of a drunken man behaving erratically on the highway and responded. Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner RK Meena told that police didn’t know it was Dr Rao until they arrived at the scene.
Police say Dr Rao tried to remove a barricade on the road and flung a liquor bottle onto the street. They also alleged that it was passers-by who restrained him by tying up his hands with rope before the police got to the scene.
They registered a case accusing the doctor of causing damage and obstructing police.
Mr Meena said: “He behaved rudely with the police. He snatched the mobile phone from a constable and threw it away. He is apparently suffering from psychological problems.”
He also said that the doctor had first been taken to a police station, and later admitted to a hospital for a basic examination. Doctors there advised that he should be moved to a mental institution.
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