Junior doctors, who have been protesting against the assault on two of their colleagues at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital, on Saturday turned down Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s invitation for a meeting to resolve the impasse, PTI reported.
The West Bengal chief minister had invited the protesting doctors came after the chief minister held a two-hour long meeting with senior doctors, who were not part of the strike.
The strike, which entered its fifth day on Saturday, has paralysed services in most government hospitals, with over 200 doctors working at state-run hospitals resigning from their posts.
The junior doctors at Kolkata’s NRS hospital went on a strike on Tuesday, a day after the family of a patient allegedly attacked two interns. Soon, the protests spread to state-run medical facilities across the state. On Thursday, the agitating doctors defied Banerjee’s ultimatum to return to work by 2 pm. Banerjee had threatened to take action if her order was not followed. She had also claimed that outsiders were responsible for it.
“We are not going to the secretariat upon the invitation of the chief minister for the meeting,” Arindam Dutta, spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, told PTI. “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.”
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi said he had called up the chief minister to discuss the matter but had got no response from her. “If she calls me up, we will discuss the matter,” he told reporters after visiting Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, one of the injured interns at NRS hospital.
Earlier on Friday, the doctors placed six demands before the Mamata Banerjee-led government as a precondition to call off their strike. This includes the demand that Banerjee visit the injured doctors, condemn the attack on them, withdrawal of all false cases against doctors and an improvement in hospital infrastructure and facilities.
The Calcutta High Court 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.
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.”