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No sign of end to doctors’ strike

Kolkata: Agitating junior doctors in West Bengal Friday were in no mood to relent as they demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s unconditional apology and set six conditions to the administration for withdrawal of their stir, which has disrupted healthcare services in the state and spiralled to other parts of the country.

Over 200 senior doctors of various state-run hospitals across the state resigned from their services to show solidarity with the agitators.

Late in the evening, Banerjee met the senior doctors and later invited the agitators for talks on Saturday but they declined the offer.

“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.

As the medical fraternity from across the country began to rally behind their Bengal colleagues, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urged Banerjee not to make this sensitive matter a “prestige issue” but ensure an “amicable end” to the stir, which entered the fourth day Friday.

Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi said he called up Banerjee to discuss the issue but got no response from her.

Listing the six conditions, the agitators said Banerjee 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 inquiry 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,” Dutta said. “We demand documentary evidence and details of action taken against those who had attacked us,” Dutta said.

The agitators 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 strike.

They stressed on their demand for improvement of infrastructure in all health facilities as well as posting of armed police personnel there.

A senior state health department official said over 200 doctors, including heads of departments of medical colleges and hospitals in Kolkata, Burdwan, Darjeeling and North 24 Parganas districts, sent their resignation letters to the state director of medical education.

“We express fullest solidarity to the current movement of NRS Medical College and Hospital and other government hospitals agitating to protest the brutal attack on them while on duty,” Dr P Kundu, director of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, said in the resignation letter.

Earlier in the day, several prominent personalities like filmmaker Aparna Sen, rights activist Binayak Sen, actor and theatre personality Kaushik Sen, film director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and musician Debojyoti Mishra along with senior doctors, visited the agitators at NRS Medical College and Hospital showing solidarity towards the junior doctors.

They later participated in a rally holding placards with a message “No more violence, enough is enough.”

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court refused to pass any interim order on the strike.

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