Revoke Suspension, Drop Case Against Dr Sudhakar Rao

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) urges the State government to revoke the suspension of Dr Sudhakar Rao, anesthetist at the Narsipatnam Area Hospital in Visakhapatnam district and to withdraw the criminal case registered against him.

The government has suspended Dr Sudhakar Rao from service on 8 April 2020 and a criminal complaint was lodged against him for his outburst against the non-availability of N95 respirators (masks) in the 150-bed Area Hospital. The act of suspension and booking of a case against a senior government medical officer is unfair and an expression of intolerance.

There is an acute shortage of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the world and more so in Andhra Pradesh. Across the world, doctors who are in the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 are facing grave consequences because of this shortage. Many in our country have tested positive for the coronavirus and been quarantined. Thus, there is an element of truth to Dr Sudhakar Rao’s apprehension and his predicament is well founded.  It appears from a viewing of the video clippings, that Dr Rao’s intemperate remarks are spontaneous and not premeditated. The government ought to have empathy for doctors like Dr Sudhakar Rao. Penalizing him for his expression of anguish is completely uncalled for.     

The pandemic can only be tackled by a collective and concerted effort from all quarters of society including the Central and State governments, civic administration, doctors, medical staff, sanitation workers, police, media and the public at large. Such a commendable effort is indeed happening in the State. In this shared effort, it is doctors who are at the forefront, often putting their lives at stake. The medical fraternity would be completely demoralised by such a vindictive measure. Not just that, there is the danger of the truth becoming a casualty in such circumstances. People will be scared to divulge vital information that is the need of the hour. We need whistle blowers during such times more than ever.          

During these critical and exacting times, what is required is mutual respect and harmony between various official departments and different sections of society. For a successful fight against the pandemic, democratic institutions and values must be strengthened.

M Sarat    
(HRF Vizag district president) 

K Sudha
(HRF AP State general secretary)


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