As the West Bengal doctors’ protest entered its fifth day on Saturday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote to the chief ministers of all States and Union Territories directing them to take strict action against persons assaulting medical practitioners.

Nearly 300 doctors have tendered their resignations protesting the assault on medicos at Kolkata’s Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital.

The impasse at NRS began a day after Pariboho Mukherjee, a doctor, suffered serious injuries to his skull when relatives of a 75-year-old patient, Mohammed Shahid, clashed with the medicos alleging that the patient died because of negligence.

The minister had on Friday assured doctors that the Government was committed towards their safety and also appealed to them to hold symbolic protests and continue with their duties.

He further appealed to West Bengal CM Banerjee to not make it an issue of prestige. He said, the ultimatum issued by Mamata had angered the doctors and thus the strike gained nationwide significance.

Mamata had on Friday issued a four-hour ultimatum to junior doctors to return to work. The warning was ignored amid anger on her remarks the previous day where she said the protesting medicos at Kolkata’s SSKM had “abused” her when she visited the hospital.

On Friday, doctors from hospitals across the country boycotted work to express solidarity with the Bengal medicos.

In Delhi, doctors at 15 hospitals including the AIIMS had joined the protest. Other prominent hospitals in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana as well as other places stayed away from work, demanding justice for their Bengal counterparts and enhanced security for practitioners.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has launched a three-day nationwide protest from Friday to express solidarity with the medicos and called for a strike on 17 June with the withdrawal of non-essential health services.