Thousands of demonstrators came out to the streets at New Baneshwor, one of the biggest apolitical rallies in Nepalese history, in support of Prof. Dr. Govinda KC, the senior orthopedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
Dr. Govinda KC has been undergoing a hunger strike since July 10 and this is his eighth strike since July 2012. He has been demanding reforms in Nepal’s medical sector and has put forth four major demands.
The public congregated at Maitighar Mandala on Saturday and surged forward, protesting in front of the Parliament building at Naya Baneshwor. Huge supporters came out with placards and banners with the message in KC’s favor, demanding the government address the major issues put forth. People have reacted all over the social media with the #IamwithDrKC.
The rally was organized by the Student Union and Welfare Association of TUTH and had attracted participants from all over Kathmandu.
Many political parties have backed his movement against the corrupt medical sector, including former prime minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.
Dr. KC is already on his 14th day, and his health is deteriorating day by day.
Many political and non-political agencies have their concern over the demands of the fasting doctor. President Bidya Devi Bhandari has met with Minister for Health Ram Janam Chaudhary over his concern and has told the government to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
A cabinet meeting on Wednesday formed a three-member team to discuss issues with Dr. Govinda KC. The team comprises of secretaries from the Office of the Prime Minister as well as Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.
The secretary members headed to the TUTH in order to discuss the demand, as per the cabinet meeting.
The second-round talk between the government and the team representing Dr. Govinda KC has been postponed in an attempt to seek some experts advice.
According to Health Secretary Dr. Senendra Raj Upreti, who heads the government talks team said, “Some topics are very difficult, so we have decided to postpone the meeting as we have seen the necessity to seek suggestions from experts for a substantive conclusion.” He further added saying, “Our effort will be to make the next dialogue final.”
His demand includes implementation of the Kedar Bhakta Mathema report on reforms in Nepal’s medical education, and charging against Lokman Singh Karki, chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, over various allegations.
Karki is accused of sheltering many corrupt people in the medical sector and contended that the CIAA chief breached his authority over the years according to local newspaper, The Himalayan Times. Along with Karki, CIAA Commissioner Raj Narayan Pathak is also accused of abusing his authorities in bringing abnormalities in the medical education sector over his tenure.
But, the CIAA has challenged Dr. KC to put facts on the accusation and surprisingly released a statement demanding a psychiatric checkup questioning the mental state of Dr. KC.
Another demand includes improvement in a draft of the Medical Education Act to make medical education more accessible to minorities with completely free education, establishing at least one medical college in all provinces, and to end further affiliations to new private colleges in Kathmandu for the next 10 years.
Dr. KC has plenty of support from all around the country, but many private medical colleges have been against him and is forcing protest in response. Dr. Bhola Rijal, Chairman of the Association of Private Medical and Dental Colleges of Nepal, asked Dr. KC to withhold the hunger strike. The protestors believe Dr. KC is against the promotion of private medical colleges in Nepal.
[Photo by Niranjan Shrestha/AP Images]