West Bengal Doctors’ Forum (WBDF) and the family members of doctors who succumbed battling Covid-19 are demanding that they should be officially declared as ‘martyrs’. Raising the demand, WBDF sent letters to the state Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha and state health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam.
Taking cognizance of the demand, the state government has responded to the family members and WBDF saying that they will look into the matter in future as there is no official rule in the Indian constitution to use the word ‘martyr’.
“Yes, we are demanding that doctors and healthcare workers who died during COVID-19 service should be given the honour of martyr. We in the medical fraternity urged the government to accord the official status of COVID-19 warrior turned ‘Martyr’ to affected healthcare workers fighting on the frontline, in COVID care or otherwise, so as to provide solace to and boost the morale of their family and co-workers alike,” said WBDF’s Secretary, Dr Koushik Chaki.
Additionally, we want the posthumous status of Covid-19 Martyrs to be given to all healthcare and frontline warriors irrespective of being in government or private. It's the minimum the Centre and State should ensure, he added.
WBDF highlighted the matter after Manisha Bhandari, wife of Ophthalmologist, Dr Subhendu Bhandari requested the CMOH in Howrah district to honour her husband – who died on June 25 due to Covid-19.
“My husband Dr Subhendu Bhandari, Ophthalmologist by profession died on June 25. He was diagnosed with Covid-19. From the month of May, he started his private clinic in Deulti and Bagnan. He was personally requested by his patients to serve the area as there was no Ophthalmologist there, without fearing for his health he prioritized his patients and attended to over eighty patients each day,” Manisha’s letter reads.
“With due respect, I would be very grateful if Dr Subhendu Bhandari is declared as a Covid Martyr as he died in the line of duty,” the letter added.
Responding to the letter, WBDF’s Secretary, Dr Chaki, said, “Sad that a martyr’s wife has to even ask and rum from pillar to post for this. Our Chief Minister must interfere.”
It was learnt that as per Indian Constitution the word likes ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ does not exist. The issue of the non-existence of these words came into limelight after the Centre responded to an RTI that there is no term as ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ in the Defence and in the police department.
They also responded that as per their terminology, they use words like ‘battle casualty’ or ‘operations casualty’ in MoD and in MHA respectively.
Recently, after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement that ‘National Doctors Day’ on July 1, will be a State holiday – the WBDF rejected the decision citing the reason that the state government should focus more on safety and security of the health care workers rather than announcing a holiday.