Over 500 Docs Quit, Hundreds on Leave: Despite Medical Services Taking a Hit, Bengal Impasse Continues

The medicos had on Friday sought unconditional apology from chief minister Mamata Banerjee and set six conditions for the state government in order to withdraw their stir.

Kolkata: Defying warnings of disciplinary action by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, 34 more doctors submitted their resignation at the JNM hospital in Kalyani and 144 doctors from Kolkata Municipal Corporation's health centre decided to take causal leave, as the doctors’ protest entered its fifth day on Saturday.

Between Thursday and Saturday afternoon, more than 500 government-employed doctors tendered resignations in an unprecedented show of solidarity with their striking junior colleagues.

Scores of doctors from several government hospitals in Delhi, who could not join a nationwide stir on June 14, on Saturday protested in solidarity with their striking colleagues in Kolkata and threatened to intensify their agitation if West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee does not agree to their demand for adequate security.

Doctors at the Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital and RML Hospital, and Delhi government facilities such as Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital and DDU Hospital, boycotted work and held protests.

The medicos had on Friday sought unconditional apology from Banerjee and set six conditions for the state government in order to withdraw their stir.

"We are not going to the secretariat upon the invitation of the chief minister for the meeting. She will have to come to the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital and deliver an unconditional apology for her comments made during her visit to the SSKM Hospital on Thursday," Arindam Dutta, spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors said.

"If she can go to the SSKM she can also come to the NRS... or else this agitation will go on," Dutta said.

Banerjee, who visited the state-run SSKM Hospital on Thursday amid slogans of "we want justice", had contended that outsiders were creating disturbances in the medical colleges and the ongoing agitation is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP.

On Friday night, the agitating junior doctors declined to attend a meeting called by Banerjee at the state secretariat, saying it was a ploy to break their stir.

Doctors in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal are at loggerheads with Banerjee and her administration after a mob attacked resident doctors at the NRS Medical College on Monday night and critically injured a doctor named Paribaha Mukhopadhyay. He sustained a serious skull injury in the attack.

Banerjee on Saturday visited the Institute of Neurology, Kolkata (INK) to meet Mukhopadhyay who is undergoing treatment there.

On Friday, a majority of hospitals in Delhi had joined the country-wide agitation in support of the doctors in West Bengal, on a call given by the India Medical Association (IMA) and various resident doctors' associations (RDAs). Their demands include CRPF deployment in hospitals.

Delhi hospitals that will remain on strike on Saturday include Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Ambedkar Hospital, Guru Govind Singh Hospital, ESI Vasaidharapur, Dada Dev Shishu Chikstalay, The Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, Hindurao, Bhagwan Mahavir, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya and Railways Hospital. Only emergency services and ICU services are functional here.

Meanwhile, resident doctors of AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital, who boycotted work on Friday, have now given a48-hour ultimatum to Banerjee to meet the demands of the state's agitating doctors, failing which they said they would go on indefinite strike.

Members of the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association (RDA), who resumed work on Saturday, said that if the demands of the West Bengal doctors are not met within 48 hours, they would be forced to resort to an indefinite strike. "We condemn the hostile and unapologetic attitude of the government of West Bengal. Our protest at AIIMS, New Delhi continues until justice is meted out.”

"According to the decision taken in a general body meeting held on June 14, RDA issues an ultimatum of 48 hours to the West Bengal government to meet the demands of the striking doctors there, failing which we would be forced to resort to an indefinite strike at AIIMS, New Delhi. We hope that our colleagues across the nation will join us in this hour of need," the AIIMS RDA said in a statement.