A wreath had been placed at the entrance to the residence of Dr. Palitha Rajapaksa, the GOMA branch secretary in Badulla, by some unknown persons. Dr. Rajapaksa told police that he found the wreath when he was about to leave his residence on Saturday morning. Apart from that Dr. M. D. Ajith, attached to the Badulla hospital and Dr. Rajapaksa had also received anonymous telephone calls threatening them with death, the GMOA said.
Recently, the junior staff of the Badulla hospital launched a minor strike after a junior employee of the hospital was knocked down and killed by a van. Workers protested the alleged failure of the police to arrest the van driver.
To disperse the protesters the police fired tear gas during which a lady doctor was badly affected, after inhaling the gas and required hospitalisation.
Headquarters Inspector of Badulla, H. I. Bandara too was injured after being struck by a stone thrown by the protestors.
The infuriated hospital staff demanded the immediate transfer of HQI Bandara who had ordered the firing of tear gas to disperse the crowd.
GMOA Media Spokesman Dr. Navin de Soysa told The Island that Dr. Palitha Rajapaksa was an active union Secretary at the Badulla hospital and he had been receiving death threats over the phone. Dr. M. D. Ajith, in the same hospital, had also received similar calls. “Attacks on doctors are on the rise. The GMOA would ask the IGP to provide security to the doctors who are under threat by thugs,” Dr. de Soysa stressed.
Since the GMOA had objected to private medical schools, retaliation against the its doctors had soared, he said adding that the association would request the IGP and the Badulla police to investigate the incident impartially and bring to book the culprits, irrespective of who they were.
He said that the GMOA Executive Committee would monitor the situation carefully. If tangible action was not taken by the police, the GMOA would not hesitate to launch trade union action.
Badulla SSP Gregory Cooray, when contacted in this regard, said that Dr. Rajapaksa had lodged an entry, on the incident, with the Badulla police yesterday morning. The Badulla police had obtained a Court order to tap the threatening calls and had used police sniffer dogs to trace the culprits. Everything that could be done was being done, he said.
Uva Province Governor Nanda Matthew, when contacted, said that the motive of those cowardly acts clearly showed that some elements were against the GMOA members and wanted to sabotage the State-run health services. “I have instructed the Badulla police to take immediate action to arrest the culprits. The police have obtained a Court order to tap the telephone to track the anonymous callers. The police have agreed to provide security to the doctors.”
By Don Asoka Wijewardena