A senior doctor from the Narsipatnam Area Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended by the state government in April after his video on the shortage of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) went viral, was detained by the police on Saturday alleging that he caused nuisance on a main road in Visakhapatnam.
While it was alleged that he was in an inebriated condition as videos showed a shirtless Dr Sudhakar Rao in confrontation with the police, the doctor in the same video denied that he was drunk.
The incident took place at Akkayyapalem and Visakhapatnam city police Commissioner RK Meena claimed that the doctor had been mentally unwell for the last few weeks.
A series of videos that have now gone viral show the doctor's car stopped on the side of the road. He was seen shouting at the police and using abusive language against Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and minorities. The next video shows him sitting shirtless inside the car and then shouting at the police, and he was then seen walking in the middle of the road shirtless doing the same. The videos are not continuous and therefore it is not possible to understand why the confrontation started.
The next video shows cops tying his hands up, even as one constable hits him with a lathi. The doctor is seen lying down on the road, with his hands tied and refusing to budge. Later, the police put him in an auto and take him away.
The video where the constable hit the doctor with a lathi was widely shared and the behaviour of the policemen was criticised. The Commissioner said that the constable seen in the video had been suspended for his actions.
Several people gathered as the doctor lay down on the road, with his hands tied and refusing to budge. The police later physically lifted him and put him in an autorickshaw, which whisked him away as people were filming the incident on their phones.
Dr Sudhakar was in the centre of a major political row last month, as the YSRCP government suspended him after he had alleged a shortage of protective gear for medical workers in a viral video. However, at the time, the YSRCP alleged that the doctor was 'in cahoots' with the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to malign the government.
The latest action by the police also quickly turned political as the TDP took to Twitter and condemned his detention.
TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh, who is also the son of Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu tweeted, "Dr Sudhakar, who had only asked for a mask, was unfairly suspended. The Dalit doctor has now been tied up and beaten up with a lathi by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. We condemn this incident."
జగన్ దళితులను దారుణంగా అవమానిస్తున్నారు.నిజాలు బయటపెట్టిన ఉత్తమ వైద్యుడైన సుధాకర్ గారి పై కక్ష కట్టి వేధిస్తున్న జగన్ తగిన మూల్యం చెల్లించుకోక తప్పదు (2/2)— Lokesh Nara #StayHomeSaveLives (@naralokesh) May 16, 2020
In the video which had gone viral in April, Dr Sudhakar Rao, an anaesthetist with 20 years of experience, had spoken about how doctors were being forced to use one N-95 mask for 15 days.
"We will die. Why won't there be positive cases (among medical staff)? They are not giving minimum importance to the medical department," he said in the video.
Speaking to TNM later, the doctor had said, "When hospital staff do not have any medical gear, people like politicians, higher officials and the police have the standard N-95 masks. Aren't the medical staff supposed to get all that?”