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Protest against transfer policy, doctor kills self

She set herself on fire pouring alcohol on her body at her Behala residence on 16 August in protest against the alleged reluctance of the health department, headed by the chief minister Mamata Banerjee, to transfer her to a hospital in the city or elsewhere close to her residence despite repeated requests.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

A40 year-old government doctor Abantika Bhattacharya committed suicide in protest against the state health department’s transfer policy on government doctors hardly a week after five contractual women teachers attempted to end their life by consuming pesticides while agitating in front of the Bikash Bhaban against the education department on the same issue.

Today, Abantika who was attached with a state-run hospital in the West Midnapore district for eight years, died at SSKM Hospital after fighting for two weeks. She set herself on fire pouring alcohol on her body at her Behala residence on 16 August showing protest against the alleged reluctance of the health department headed by the chief minister Mamata Banerjee to transfer her to a hospital in the city or elsewhere close to her residence despite repeated requests.

She had also posted her comments on social media criticizing the government’s transfer policy around 30 minutes before her attempt to commit suicide. The incident has rocked the medical fraternity today prompting different doctors’ bodies to come down heavily on the government’s transfer policy in public healthcare services.

Sources in the health department said that she was suffering from depression after the health department refused to meet up her repeated requests to transfer her with a promotion to a city hospital. She was demanding the transfer to look after her autistic child. Her husband is a doctor of a government hospital in Behrampore in Murshidabad district.

But she was transferred to a hospital at Diamond Harbour, around 60 to 70 km away from Behala, without any promotion in her service. Association of Health Service Doctors (AHSD), a CPIM-backed government doctors’ platform, has slammed the state government soon after the news of Abantika’s death, spread.

“Abantika’s death is a shocking incident. She is a victim of the health department’s transfer policy on government doctors. The state government can’t deny its responsibility. The policy promotes nepotism for a section of doctors who are not transferred elsewhere from their areas of comfort zones in respective hospitals while others like Abantika are getting depressed staying in their workplaces for years,” alleged Dr Manas Gumta, AHSD secretary.

“During the Left regime, there was a transparent transfer policy for government doctors. After serving five years’ term in state-run rural healthcare unit doctors had the scope to get transferred to their home districts,” Dr Gumta said.

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya has slammed the health department for its policy on the transfer and posting of doctors. “A young doctor committed suicide because the health department’s policy of nepotism saves doctors only who are close to the ruling Trinamul Congress. Her death is unfortunate and shocking,” Bhattacharya said.

The state BJP has demanded a CBI probe into the matter. The party is set to file a PIL in Calcutta High Court towards the same.