The doctors’ protest in West Bengal entered the fifth day on Thursday even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee offered to hold talks and resolve the issue.
On Friday night, the striking medicos rejected a proposal from Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna, and stuck to their demand that she would have to come down to the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the protest movement, to listen to their grievances and apologise for having cast aspersions on them.
Though the out-patient departments remained closed, the emergency services in all the state-run hospitals, including the NRS, were functional on Saturday.
According to reports, nearly 300 doctors have tendered their resignations protesting the assault on doctors 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 doctors alleging that the patient died because of negligence.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan 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 doctors 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) 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.
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi Friday night said he called up the chief minister to discuss the issue but there was “no response” from her. Earlier, a team of BJP leaders met the governor and demanded Ms Banerjee’s resignation.