As Mamata’s Ultimatum Fails to Evoke Response, Guv Urges Docs to Resume Duty for Sake of Patients
The statewide protest was triggered after 24-year-old Pariboho Mukherjee, a junior doctor at the NRS Hospital, was beaten up on June 10 by family members of a patient over allegations of negligence.
Doctors continue their stir at the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Thursday. (News18)
Kolkata: Concerned over the ongoing strike called by junior doctors across West Bengal, Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Thursday appealed to them to resume their duties in the interest of patients.
Tripathi also extended his request to all other doctors in the state.
The appeal came after representatives of the Joint Platform of Doctors, West Bengal, and Doctors’ Association of ABVP, West Bengal, met him on Thursday and apprised him of the current situation after the attack on a junior doctor at the NRS Medical College and Hospital on June 10.
They submitted a memorandum to Tripathi, who will forward it to the state government for appropriate action.
Doctors' representatives demanded adequate security and protection in hospitals, proper investigation, punishment for those who attacked the junior doctor, and redressal of their other grievances. They said they would resume their duties on receipt of a firm and credible assurance of their security from the state government.
The statewide protest was triggered after 24-year-old Pariboho Mukherjee, a junior doctor at the NRS Hospital, was beaten up on June 10 by family members of a patient over allegations of negligence. Emergency wards, outdoor facilities, pathological units of many state-run medical colleges and hospitals and a number of private medical facilities in the state remained closed for the third day.
Mukherjee, who had sustained a skull fracture and was admitted to the Institute of Neurosciences, is currently out of danger.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a Facebook post on Thursday, said, “I am grateful to senior doctors and professors who are offering full services to the people. My humble regards to them for their cooperation. Some misinformation/disinformation being spread on social media by some political parties are completely untrue.”
“Health service is always dedicated to the patients. I, therefore, appeal to all to restore normal healthcare services to the patients without any further delay,” she added.
Earlier in the day, there was high drama when Banerjee reached the state-run SSKM hospital here around noon amid slogans of "we want justice" by the doctors.
"I condemn the agitation. The junior doctors' strike is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and BJP," said Banerjee, who also holds the health and family welfare portfolio in the state government. She directed the police to clear the premises and only allow patients to stay.
Banerjee then issued a four-hour ultimatum to junior doctors to withdraw their strike or vacate their hostel quarters.
However, the junior doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital refused to call off their stir. They also condemned Banerjee for threatening them in the name of giving a ‘time-bound ultimatum’.
“Instead of meeting us at NRS Medical College and Hospital, she went to SSKM College and Hospital. We are not going to call off our strike. It seems that she doesn’t want a solution. Instead of showing sympathy towards the junior doctors who often face public wrath, she threatened us to vacate hostels. Do you think this will resolve the issues?” asked Humayun Kabir, a junior doctor.
His colleague Deepak Giri said, “She should come here and talk to us. Dialogue is the only solution here. Nothing can be achieved forcibly.”
In the face of protests and slogans of ‘we want justice’, Banerjee said, “I condemn this. Those who are creating problem are outsiders and not junior doctors. I want police to take stern action. Those who want to protest will not be allowed to stay inside the hostel. If you want to talk, please come to me."
Stating that outsiders had entered medical colleges and hospitals to create disturbances, she said, "The BJP, with help from the CPI(M), is indulging in Hindu-Muslim politics. I am shocked to see their love affair."
Banerjee also accused the striking junior doctors at SSKM Hospital of having verbally abused her during the visit.
"I went to the emergency section where they could have talked to me, but the language they used when I was there and the manner they abused me... Had somebody else been there in my place, some other action would have followed," she later told a news channel.
Banerjee, however, said she has "forgiven" them considering their age. "They can oppose me, they can hurl abuses at me. I don't mind because they are young. I only want them to resume work," she said.
Opposition slams Mamata
The opposition camp in the state slammed Banerjee for her threats and sought her immediate resignation as health minister.
Banerjee described the injuries sustained by the junior doctor as "unfortunate". Five persons have been arrested in connection with the incident, she said, adding that an inquiry has also been ordered to probe complaints of negligence during treatment, which had resulted in the death of the patient after which the junior doctor was assaulted.
"Cancer patients, kidney patients, accident victims, even children coming from distant places are suffering for not getting treatment," she said.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan condemned the violence against doctors and urged patients and their attendants to exercise restraint. The minister said he would take up the matter of doctors' security with the chief ministers of all states and Union Territories.
Harsh Varshan also asked the doctors to ensure that essential services to the people are not disrupted, an official statement said.
The doctors' stir echoed in New Delhi as well.
Several resident doctors at AIIMS, Delhi, worked with bandages on their heads in a symbolic protest and have decided to boycott work on Friday in solidarity with the doctors protesting against an attack on their colleagues in West Bengal.
The AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) has also urged RDAs across the country to join the token strike.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had earlier directed members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday.
In a communique to its state presidents and secretaries, the IMA has asked them to organise demonstrations in front of district collectors' offices from 10 am to 12 pm on Friday and hand over a memorandum addressed to the prime minister to the collectors.
(With inputs from PTI)
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