Minister says ‘chop off’ hands of striking doctors, clarifies

Express news service Posted: Jan 30, 2012 at 0033 hrs
Patna A day after he threatened to chop off the hands of doctors planning to go on strike, Bihar Health Minister and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Choubey, giving in to criticism, retracted and said that he had “only used a phrase” suggesting the state government will be strict with such doctors.

Over 1,000 junior doctors are going on strike from January 31, demanding a hike in stipend and allowances at par with the Central government doctors. Launching a statewide health campaign on Saturday, Choubey had said, “If someone tries to cripple the public healthcare system, I will chop off their hands.” Junior doctors comprise the main work force of Bihar’s six medical colleges and hospitals.

The minister’s statement angered doctors, who questioned his “authoritarian style”. Dr Dhiraj Kumar, a member of the Junior Doctors’ Association (temporarily dissolved), said, “We have a right to protest; the minister’s statement is unfortunate.”

Choubey blamed doctors and the media for the controversy regarding his statement. “I had said this in the context of doctors being adamant about crippling health services. I used just a phrase cautioning the doctors,” he said.