High level team in Ilam to muster support

Panchthar, January 17

A high level team including the former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University former vice-Kedar Bhakta Mathema and former chief justice Sushila Karki arrived in Ilam today to rally support for the agitating senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govind KC, who has been on a hunger strike for the past nine days putting forward different demands for reforms in the medical sector.

Besides Mathema, who is also the coordinator of the high level task force formed to frame the education policy for the country, and former chief justice Karki, former speaker of the Parliament and civil society leader Damannath Dhungana, senior advocate Surendra Bhandari and Dr Abhishekraj Singh, who headed the erstwhile talks team formed on behalf of Dr KC to talk to the government, are also in the team that arrived here in the evening.

The team is expected to meet the agitating doctor at Ilam Hospital today itself and learn about his health condition.

According to KC’s special aide and a local journalist Somnath Suseli, the team will also attend a rally to be taken out tomorrow by the local civil society to muster support for KC, whose health is still critical. Though doctors had advised to keep KC in the ICU or CCU three days ago, the same hasn’t happened as the doctor refused to be admitted to such a facility. He is now on saline drips and antibiotics.

In view of the doctor’s worsening health and government failure to act upon his demands, a signature campaign has started in Ilam demanding that the government implement past agreements reached with Dr KC and thus save his life. The signature campaign has been launched at the initiative of local students. Campaigner Prakash Bhattarai said the signatures will be sent to the prime minister through the district administration.

Meanwhile, rallies and corner meetings are being taken out in Ilam almost every day these days in support of the doctor. Today itself, rallies and corner meetings were taken out in Ilam district headquarters and other places of the district.

In Ilam, a rally that started from Thulo Tudikhel had traversed through different parts of the bazaar before converging into a corner meeting at Chowk Bazaar.

Speaking at the meeting, journalist Suseli described the Dr KC’s demands as right and meant to purge the medical sector of its ills. “He is not agitating for or against any particular party but for the entire nation, so the government must address his demands,” he said.

Having started his 16th hunger strike on January 9 at a house in Phulgachhi, Dr KC was shifted to Ilam Hospital a few days ago after his health worsened.

The doctor had resorted to hunger strike afresh after the Education and Health Committee of the federal Parliament endorsed the National Medical Education Bill wihout abiding by the government’s agreement with DrKC in the past.

Meanwhile, Nepali Congress Ilam issued a press statement urging the government to save Dr KC’s life by addressing his concerns. “The so-called democratic and socialist government is unmoved even when it’s been nine days since the doctor started his agitation, which does not add up,” the statement signed by party acting president Shantikala Tamang Rai read, seeking that his demands be immediately addressed. A rally is due tomorrow in Panchthar under the banner of Save Dr Govind KC Campaign.