The Rajasthan government on Friday asked striking doctors to return to their duties by 7 pm, and said strict action would be taken if they do not comply, ANI reported. The notice came after the doctors failed to reach an agreement with the government at a meeting that ended at 11 pm on Thursday, according to DNA.

Thousands of in-service doctors have been on strike in the state since Monday with their list of 33 demands, including formation of a separate cadre for in-service doctors, Rs 10,000 grade pay benefit, corrections in salary discrepancies, housing facility and safety for them. The strike has hit health services at government hospitals in many districts of the state.

The state’s health department claimed to have made alternative arrangements for patients at state-run dispensaries, railway hospitals and private hospitals.

Meanwhile, a dairy body in Kota said its milkmen would stop delivering milk to the houses of the doctors who had joined the strike. “At a time when seasonal diseases are claiming lives, it is unfair for doctors to organise a strike since it affects mostly poor patients,” Mohammad Umar, president of the Kota Private Dairy Federation told the Hindustan Times.

Last month, hundreds of doctors had gathered in Jaipur to submit their resignation letters to the All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors’ Association. The association had said it would forward the resignations to the state government on November 6 if it does not agree to its 33 long-pending demands.

“For around four months, we have been agitating peacefully in a Gandhian way, but the government [does not appear to be] serious, as no action on our pending demands has been taken so far,” Dr Ajay Chaudhary, president of the association, had told DNA.

He said the list of demands was not only for the doctors but also for improving healthcare in Rajasthan. “Doctors do not have any intention of creating problems for patients by submitting mass resignations, but we are forced to do it,” Chaudhary said.