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Haji Irfan Solanki is an Indian politician from Uttar Pradesh, affiliated to the Samajwadi Party. He is the member of the state assembly from Sishamau (Assembly constituency). He and his group of musclemen are frequently associated with political hooliganism or "goonda-raj".
Incidents of hooliganism
In June 2011, Solanki along with 20 others, forced his way into the office of woman IAS officer Ritu Maheshwari. He was arrested after a complaint was filed for misbehaving with her, and this led to his supporters clashing with the police in Kanpur. He later apologized.
In May 2012, he was travelling in a car with tinted glass windows in the front, which is illegal under a Supreme Court ruling. When stopped by the traffic police in Faridabad, his hoodlums attempted to beat up the police. At the time, the incident was called "major embarrassment to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who had promised to end the hooliganism" associated with Samajwadi Party rule.
He is convicted by session court for desecration of tricolour flag (tiranga jhanda) in tricolour cake cutting case (2011).
Doctor's assault and statewide hospital closures, March 2014
On Feb 28 2014, Solanki and his gunner severely assaulted some junior doctors in Kanpur after a minor traffic accident near GSVM Medical College and the associated Hallett Hospital in Kanpur. Since it was near their hostel, a large group of students came out, and Solanki fled to a nearby police station. His car was damaged by the students. Subsequently, more than a hundred Samajwadi Party musclemen or goondas (maintained by political parties for instigating violence) entered the hostel and started beating up students and professors. A large team of policemen led by SSP Yashashvi Yadav entered the campus without attempting to seek permission - apparently they manhandled principal Dr. Navneet Kumar by his collar. The police beat up the students severely, and arrested 24 junior doctors and none of Solanki's men. Several students have multiple fractures, at least one has a life-threatening pelvic fracture, and some may become handicapped for life. The following morning, "shattered laptops, damaged medical books, broken chairs and tables and shattered mirrors" pointed to "the terror unleashed by the cops."
The magnitude of the violence caused widespread anger in the medical community, and thousands of doctors across the state struck work, protesting the "high-handedness" of the government. Medical colleges remained closed in Agra, Lucknow, Aligarh and other cities. Protests were held in AIIMS, Delhi and other parts of India. The matter was unresolved for four days, during which several dozen patients died. Intensifying the crisis, three hundred medical faculty resigned from their posts, seeking the release of 24 student doctors. The Indian Medical Association protested the "barbaric" police action and threatened a country-wide strike on March 5. The IMA president Aarti Lalchandani was threatened by police in her house. and charged with inciting unrest. Eventually, the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav met a delegation of doctors and appealed for calm, but no resolution could be reached since Solanki had not been arrested. Health services in all of Uttar Pradesh have been severely affected.
On March 3, the 24 arrested students refused to appeal for bail until action was taken against the police SP Yashashvi Yadav. Also, another 200 faculty members in the Medical College in Agra resigned. Talks between the doctors and health minister Ahmad Hasan failed. The stir caused closures of hospitals in NOIDA, near Delhi. The prestigious SGPGI, Lucknow was closed since March 4, and all 800 beds were vacated.
As the strike continues, opponent parties have declaimed the "goonda-raj" in the state, and demanded Solanki's arrest. A protest march by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was dispersed by a police lathicharge. Party chief and Akhilesh Yadav's father, Mulayam Singh Yadav condemned the manner in which his party was running the government.
Five days into the conflict, the Indian Medical Association gave a deadline of 48 hours to the government for arresting Solanki and resolving the matter.
Judicial probe and withdrawal of strike
On March 6, following a Public Interest Litigation, the Allahabad High Court ordered the UP Director-General of Police to probe the action of the police in the hostel raid, and that "that he may proceed with disciplinary and departmental action against the police officers who are found to have erred. The court also ordered the State Government to transfer the top three police officers of Kanpur including SSP, Yashashvi Yadav, and also ordered an independent judicial probe by retired justice V.K. Mathur. However, the state government informed the court that they had already set up a one-person inquiry headed by retired justice RMS Chauhan, following which the court kept its order in abeyance.
The state government also invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act against the striking doctors. At the same time, Mulayam Singh Yadav reassured the doctors that all allegations against Solanki and others would be looked at sympathetically,
Meanwhile, a First Information Report was filed against Irfan Solanki and others for the vicious attack on the medical students. He was charged with attempt to murder. Responding to the charges, Solanki held a press conference where he produced an old man. He claimed that this man was being beaten up ruthlessly by the junior doctors, and that he had merely stepped in to save him. At an earlier press conference, Solanki had worn a bandage and claimed that he himself had been beaten up and had to have six (or three) stitches on his head. However, a Zee News interviewer asked Solanki to show the stitches - and no stitches or hair removal could be shown. At the recent press conference also, he had no bandadges.
Following the legal developments and assurances, the doctors have withdrawn their strike. However, a group of junior doctors haves started a hunger strike demanding action against Solanki.
- "यूपीः डॉक्टरों की हड़ताल पर सरकार को नोटिस". BBC News Hindi. 5 Mar 2014. Translated quote: dinesh goswami, 4th year student in GSVMMC: "Solanki's car was parked at a petrol pump. Two junior doctors were passing by it, when the door suddenly opened causing a near accident. In the following argument, Solanki's people beat up the doctors. A little later, Solanki's people and the police entered the medical college campus and beat up the doctors and professors." According to Dr. Devendra Lalchandani, "The police beat up our students barbarically. Two students may have lost their limbs. Some have received dozens of fractures."
- Press Trust of India (Mar 7, 2014). "Doctors' strike: Court directs UP DGP to conduct fair probe". CNN-IBN.
- Shreya Dhoundial, (Mar 6, 2014). "Uttar Pradesh doctors call off strike after Allahabad HC orders probe". CNN-IBN.
- "Doctors in Kanpur call off strike after meeting Mulayam". Dainik Jagran group. 6 Mar 2014.