Several resident doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi on Thursday wore bandages and helmets on their heads to work to show solidarity with their counterparts in West Bengal, who stopped work on Tuesday protesting against the assault on their colleagues, PTI reported.

Junior doctors stopped work after the family of a patient, who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, allegedly attacked two interns.

The AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association condemned the violence in Bengal and said they will boycott work on Friday. The group urged the other resident doctors’ associations across the country to join the strike.

“The ongoing and worsening of violence against medical doctors in West Bengal is worrisome and disheartening,” the AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association said in a statement. “There is a complete breakdown of law and order, with reports of mobs attacking doctor hostels with weapons. The government has failed to provide protection and justice to doctors.”

It said resident doctors across the country were “deeply hurt” by the turn of events and have decided to boycott work on Friday, except emergency services. They urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to intervene in the matter and address the security concerns so that protesting doctors can continue to serve patients.

IMA calls for nationwide protest

The Indian Medical Association also urged members to observe a “Black Day” on Friday against the attack on junior doctors. It asked all its state presidents and secretaries to organise demonstrations in front of district collectors’ offices from 10 am to 12 noon on Friday.

The association further said that they will send an appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a central Act on violence against doctors and hospitals.

Union minister condemns violence against doctors

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday also urged patients and their attendants to exercise restraint. He assured that he will take up the matter of doctors’ security with chief ministers of all states and Union Territories.

“Doctors are an integral pillar of the society and often work under stressful and difficult conditions,” Vardhan said. “I urge the patients and their caregivers to observe restraint.”

He also asked the doctors to ensure that essential services to the patients are not disrupted.

Earlier in the day, junior doctors in state-run medical facilities in West Bengal defied Banerjee’s 2-pm deadline to return to work. She directed the doctors to get back to work, threatening to take action if her order was not followed. “Outsiders [are] disrupting services at medical colleges and hospitals,” she alleged, according to PTI.

The shutdown of medical services has directly impacted thousands of patients across the state, sparking an angry response from the general population. Three junior doctors and a fourth-year student of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital were injured on Wednesday after a mob of patients’ relatives hurled bricks at them.