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Striking Bengal doctors defy Didi’s ultimatum

Kolkata: Striking junior doctors across West Bengal on Thursday refused to end their stir till their demands on security in government hospitals are met and defied a deadline set by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came down heavily on the protestors alleging that opposition BJP and CPI(M) were provoking them and giving communal colour to the issue.

Emergency wards, outdoor facilities, pathological units of many state-run medical colleges and hospitals and a number of private medical facilities in the state remained closed for the third day due to the strike by the doctors, who are protesting after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured at the NRS Medical College and Hospital here by a mob following the death of a patient.

The India Medical Association has declared ‘All India Protest Day’ on Friday against the incident and expressed solidarity with the striking doctors.

The opposition attacked Banerjee over the impasse, with the BJP accusing her of acting as ‘Hitler’.           

There was high drama as the Chief Minister reached the state-run SSKM hospital here at around noon amid slogans of “we want justice” by the doctors.

“I condemn the agitation. The junior doctors’ strike is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP,” Banerjee, who also holds the health and family welfare portfolio, said and directed the police to clear the premises and only allow patients to stay.

She gave the doctors a four-hour deadline to rejoin service, but later revised it to 2 pm. Warning of strict action against those who do not resume work, she said they will have to vacate hostels.

Despite Banerjee’s ultimatum, the agitating doctors continued their stir. A joint platform of doctors met Governor K N Tripathi, who appealed them to resume duties.

“We will continue with our agitation till our demands are fulfilled. Our demands are simple…Proper security with armed policemen at all hospitals, arrest of culprits involved in the NRS attack on Saturday under non-bailable sections. We did not expect the Chief Minister to say what she did,” a member of the delegation said.            

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