Dr KC's hunger strike enters 22nd day today, yet no deal

Published On: August 14, 2017 04:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 13: No agreement could be reached between the government and the representatives of Dr Govinda KC even on Sunday, the 21st day of the 11th fast-unto-death being staged by Dr KC. Dr KC's representatives have blamed government negligence for the continuation of the status quo. 

Though Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba directed the authorities concerned on Friday to resolve the problems regarding the demands raised by Dr KC, it could not be translated into action. Dr KC's prime concern since the beginning has been on introducing the Medical Education Act. But the government authorities have done nothing more than tabling the bill in the parliament committee, which approved it on Friday for further discussion.

“We did not participate in the talks today as the government team was not seriously ready to hold talks,” said Dr Abhisekh Singh, member of Dr KC's talks team. “The government has only given priority to the proposed bill of medical education,” Dr Singh said, “The government has not shown any interest in address other demands.”

A high-level meeting held on Sunday at the Prime Minister's Residence at Baluwatar decided to buy Manmohan Medical College as part of addressing Dr KC's demands. The meeting, which proposed buying the college by forging consensus with the opposition CPN-UML, was held among Prime Minister Deuba, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and members of the government talks team. 

Government sources claim that the government's attempt to end the hunger strike has gone in vein three times. After discussions with civil society members including Nilambar Acharya, Prof Kedar Bhakta Mathema and Kanak Mani Dixit, KC's talks team agreed to end the hunger strike three times but KC refused to abide by that decision, according to government sources. “The government has got the bill on Medical Education approved from the parliamentary committee and decided not to open medical colleges in the Kathmandu Valley for a decade in the agreement to end the hunger strike,” said a high-level government source. “Another agreement reached with Dr KC's team was to address his demands in a certain period of time asking him to end the strike for now but every attempt went in vain.”

A senate meeting of Tribhuvan University held on Sunday decided to open two medical colleges in Bardibas and Butwal as constituent campuses of the Institute of Medicine, according to the sources. However, the meeting did not discuss anything about Dr KC's demands.

Dr KC, a professor and senior orthopedic surgeon at the Institute of Medicine (IOM, began his 11th fast-unto-death from July 24, demanding that the government bring the Medical Education Act, slash fees of postgraduate studies in medicine from Rs 3.1 million to Rs 2.2 million, appoint four assistant deans at IOM and campus chief immediately, probe into the irregularities of TU officials and take action against them, and grant autonomy to IOM. 

TU already appointed IOM campus chief and assistant deans for a certain period of time. But major demands including the Medical Education Act are yet to be addressed although a series of talks have been held in the last two weeks. No talks were held between the government team and Dr KC's team on Sunday. 

Earlier on Sunday, the students of IOM visited Dahal and urged him to address Dr KC's demands to end his hunger strike. Dahal said he supports Dr KC's demands.

On behalf of Dr KC, Dr YP Singh, Dr Ranjan Sapkota and Dr Abhisekh Singh have been involved in the talks with the government panel, headed by Shanta Bahadur Shrestha Secretary at the Ministry of Education that includes members Dr Kiran Regmi, secretary at the Ministry of Health Gopi Nath Mainali, and the secretary at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

Secretary Shrestha said that Dr KC's team refused talks with them on Sunday. “We called them for talks at 5PM today but they rejected our proposal,” he added. Issuing a statement on behalf of the team on Sunday, Shrestha appealed to Dr KC to end his three-week long hunger strike.

Dr KC's last (10th) fast-unto-death had begun on November 13 against “the anarchy prevailing in the medical education sector” and it had ended in three weeks after another agreement with the government. Dr KC had ended his 10th hunger strike following a 12-point agreement with government representatives on December 4, 2016.

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