00:25 GMT09 August 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Medical professionals have been at the forefront of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, but in India they have often faced attacks from the public. Recently, a doctor in Chennai, who died after getting infected with the coronavirus was denied a decent burial, while his friends and family were attacked by locals.

    In the wake of increasing numbers of attacks on medical professionals in India, federal Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with representatives of doctors on Wednesday and assured them of adequate security.

    "The safety and dignity of our doctors at their workplace is non-negotiable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure a conducive atmosphere for them at all times", Shah told the doctors during a virtual meeting. 

    ​The Indian Medical Association (IMA), a national representative body of doctors had previously called for observing a “White Day” on Wednesday and “Black Day” on Thursday (23 April) to protest abusive behaviour towards healthcare professionals amidst the lockdown. They also urged doctors across the country to sport black badges on Thursday as a sign of protest.

    IMA demanded a federal law to protect healthcare professionals, guarantee a safe workplace and warned, “Let not our white become red".

    The most unfortunate incident happened in Chennai, where a doctor, who treated COVID-19 patients but later succumbed to the virus, was disallowed a dignified burial by the same community he served. His family and professional friends carried the body to two crematoriums, but locals attacked them and the ambulance. Finally a colleague, with the help of police, had to dig a grave with their bare hands to bury the doctor.

    There have been several such incidents - from Surat in Gujarat to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, where medical professionals faced physical attacks or abuse from locals.

    Ahead of the national lockdown on 24 March, India had cheered the coronavirus warriors during a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The number of cases continues to mount across the country, with nearly 20,000 now infected. Some 640 people have succumbed to the disease, while 3,870 patients have recovered.


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