Members of the Joint Doctors Forum walk in solidarity with striking doctors in Kolkata. (Photo: PTI)
As the doctors’ agitation entered the fifth day on Saturday, the stand-off between the West Bengal government and the doctors continued with the striking junior doctors of NRS Medical College and Hospital turning down Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's invitation for a meeting at Nabanna, the state secretariat. The junior doctors demand that the chief minister should come to NRS hospital for the meeting.
In the meantime, Mamata Banerjee is likely to meet Dr Paribaha Mukhopadhya, the medico injured in violence at NRS Medical College. There is heavy police deployment at the hospital. According to the reports, the doctors treating Paribaha Mukhopadhyay will brief Mamata Banerjee about the junior doctor's health condition.
The striking doctors are getting support from their fellow colleagues across the nation. The attack happened on Monday at the NRS Medical College and Hospital after a 75-year-old patient passed away and his family members reached the hospital around 11 pm and clashed with the junior doctors on duty, alleging medical negligence.
Earlier in the day, doctors at AIIMS Delhi and Safdarjung Hospital called off their strikes, but gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Mamata Banerjee to meet the demands of the protesting doctors in Kolkata.
The agitating doctors, who have demanded Banerjee's unconditional apology, has set six conditions for the state government to withdraw their four-day-long stir that disrupted healthcare services across West Bengal.
"We want unconditional apology of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which she had addressed us at the SSKM Hospital yesterday. She should not have said what she had," a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, Dr Arindam Dutta, said.
Listing the six conditions, the agitators said the chief minister will have to visit the injured doctors at the hospital and her office should release a statement condemning the attack on them.
"We also want immediate intervention of the chief minister. Documentary evidence of judicial enquiry against the inactivity of the police to provide protection to the doctors at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital on Monday night should also be provided," he said.
Two junior doctors were assaulted on Monday night by family members of a patient who died in the NRS Hospital.
They also demanded unconditional withdrawal of all "false cases and charges" which were imposed on junior doctors and medical students across West Bengal in the wake of their strike.
Earlier, Banerjee has invited four representatives of the doctors for talks at Nabanna. West Bengal Medical Education Department director, Dr Pradip Kumar Mitra, had conveyed Banerjee’s to the doctors at NRS Medical College & Hospital.
Following which the doctors held a discussion and decided not to go at Nabanna for talks.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi said he called up Banerjee to discuss the issue of junior doctors' strike but got no response from her.
Tripathi paid a visit to injured junior doctor Paribaha Mukhopadhyay at the hospital where he is undergoing treatment.
"I have tried to contact the chief minister. I have called her up. Till this moment there is no response from her. If she calls me, we will discuss the matter," he told reporters after visiting Mukhopadhyay at the hospital.
Mukhopadhyay is one of the two junior doctors attacked by relatives of a patient, who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Monday night, triggering the ongoing agitation by medicos across the state.
The Governor had met representatives of the doctors on Thursday.
In the wake of protests by the medical fraternity in support of agitating doctors in Kolkata, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has also urged Banerjee not to make this sensitive matter a "prestige issue" and to ensure an "amicable end" to the stir.
In a letter to Banerjee, the Union minister urged her to ensure an "amicable end" to the protests and provide a secure working environment for doctors.
He also appealed to the agitating doctors, particularly in West Bengal, to hold symbolic protests and resume work so that patients do not suffer.
"Strike is certainly not the best way to protest. Patients should not be deprived of immediate and emergency healthcare facilities," the Union health minister said.