Over 100 doctors working at state-run hospitals in West Bengal resigned on Friday, amid the ongoing nationwide protests against the assault on two interns at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata on June 11, PTI reported. The doctors had been seriously wounded in the mob attack, which took place after a patient died the previous day.
The doctors who quit included heads of departments of medical colleges and other hospitals in Kolkata, Burdwan, Darjeeling and North 24 Parganas districts.
In his resignation letter, Dr P Kundu, director of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, said: “We express fullest solidarity to the current movement of NRS Medical College and Hospital and other government hospitals agitating to protest the brutal attack on them while on duty.”
Dr Dipanjan Bandyopadhyay, head of medicine at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, wrote a letter signed by 34 other doctors, PTI reported. “We strongly stand by the demands of security and protection for all healthcare personnel and we have tried our best to continue life saving services in the interest of our patients till now,” the letter read. “Under the present circumstances, it is not possible for us to continue our services indefinitely without minimum manpower resources. In the absence of any constructive development to end this crisis, we are pained to offer our resignation and request you to relieve us of our responsibilities.”
The Indian Medical Association, the top institution of doctors in the country, announced on Friday that the protests would continue for three days. It also said that doctors will hold a nationwide strike on Sunday. The association has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, demanding that the Centre pass a law to check violence against health care workers in hospitals.
Doctors in several other places across the country have been protesting to show solidarity with their counterparts in West Bengal, who had stopped work on Tuesday.
The Calcutta High Court, earlier on Friday, refused to pass any interim order on the ongoing strike by junior doctors in the state. The court asked the Mamata Banerjee-led government to persuade the doctors on strike to resume work.
However, Banerjee has criticised the protests, claiming that outsiders were responsible for it. On Thursday, the agitating doctors defied Banerjee’s ultimatum to return to work by 2 pm. Banerjee 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 had said.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote a letter to Banerjee on Friday, asking her to intervene to find a resolution to the problem. “It is a matter of concern that the agitation by doctors in Bengal is not heading towards resolution, but seems to be getting aggravated,” he wrote. “It is our duty to provide good working conditions and a secure environment to them[doctors],” he added. “Strong action against any person who assaults them must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies.”
Doctors have demanded an unconditional apology from Banerjee and set six conditions for the state government to withdraw their strike.