Junior doctors in West Bengal who have been protesting since Tuesday said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was free to decide the venue for a meeting with them, but stressed it should be held in the open, PTI reported.

On Saturday, the doctors had turned down Banerjee’s offer of talks behind closed doors, calling it an eyewash. The doctors had said they will continue to protest because there was “no honest initiative” by the chief minister. The protestors had insisted that Banerjee visit NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata to hold talks with them.

“We are keen to end this impasse,” a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors said. “We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors.”

The spokesperson said the venue should be spacious enough to accommodate representatives from all medical colleges and hospitals in the state. “We want to join our duties as early as possible in the best interests of the common people once all our demands are met with adequately and logically through a discussion,” the spokesperson said. “We are hopeful that the chief minister will be considerate enough to solve the problems,” he said, adding that the strike would continue till a solution was worked out.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association on Sunday said it will go ahead with 24-hour nationwide strike on Monday. All non-essential services, including outpatient departments, will be closed starting from 6 am, ANI reported. Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said. The association will also stage a sit-in protest at the IMA headquarters in Delhi from 10 am.

The medical body had launched a four-day nationwide protest starting Friday and had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding the enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers.

Protests had broken out on Tuesday after a mob attacked two interns at the hospital, following the death of a patient. Doctors have continued their protest for the last five days. The protest against the assault on doctors has spread to other parts of the country.