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Bengal Junior Doctors Protest: Stir gains nationwide support, PIL seeks cancellation of licence of striking docs

In a statement issued on Thursday, the AIIMS RDA said the ongoing and worsening of violence against medical doctors in West Bengal is worrisome and disheartening.

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Bengal Junior Doctors Protest: Stir gains nationwide support, PIL seeks cancellation of licence of striking docs
Junior doctors hold placards during a demonstration on June 13, 2019. (PTI Photo)
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Resident doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi will boycott work on Friday in solidarity with the doctors protesting against an attack on their colleagues in West Bengal. Several doctors worked with bandages on their heads in a symbolic protest on Thuesday, a day after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Wednesday directed the members of all its state branches to stage protests.

The IMA Wednesday directed the members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday.

Condemning the violence in West Bengal, the AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) has also urged the RDAs across the country to join the token strike.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the AIIMS RDA said the ongoing and worsening of violence against medical doctors in West Bengal is worrisome and disheartening.

"There is a complete breakdown of law and order, with reports of mobs attacking doctor hostels with weapons. The government has failed to provide protection and justice to doctors," the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court will tomorrow hear a PIL against doctors’ strike even as a complaint was lodged on Thursday with West Bengal Medical Council seeking cancellation of license of the striking doctors as held by the Supreme Court and High Court.

AIIMS doctors' body condemns assault

"AIIMS RDA condemns this in words and in spirit. Residents across the country are deeply hurt by these turn of events. Keeping in view of our commitment towards safe and non-violent working environment for residents, AIIMS RDA stands in support of our colleagues in West Bengal and has decided to hold protest on June 13 which would be followed by one day strike of work on June 14 which include OPD, routine and ward services except for emergency services," it said.

They urged the West Bengal chief minister to intervene in the matter and address the security concerns so that residents can continue serving patients.

The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) has also urged its members to observe a "Black Day" on Thursday against the brutal attack.
Simultaneously, all the local branches and individual members of the IMA will send an appeal to the prime minister and the Union home minister, demanding a central Act on violence against doctors and hospitals.

IMA directs state bodies to join stir on Friday

The IMA has also urged its state branches to communicate the information to the government doctors' organisations of the states, request for their support and issue a press statement to this effect.

In a communique to all its state presidents and secretaries, the IMA has asked them to organise demonstrations in front of the district collectors' offices from 10 am to 12 noon on Friday and hand over a memorandum addressed to the prime minister to the collectors in every district.

"The gruesome incident in NRS Medical College, Kolkata, is of barbaric nature. IMA condemns the violence perpetrated on a young doctor. The entire medical fraternity expresses solidarity with the resident doctors who are on strike. The IMA headquarters hereby declares All India Protest Day on Friday," an IMA statement said.

Mamata's note to senior doctors

Banerjee, who visited the state-run SSKM hospital around noon in the wake of disruption of medical services in several parts of the state over the past three days, warned the doctors of action if they do not resume work. She also requested "senior doctors and professors of MCH" to take care of all patients. 

"Please take care of all patients. The poor people are coming from all districts. I will be obliged and honoured if you all please take full care of the hospitals. Hospitals must run smoothly and peacefully," she said in a note addressed to Senior Doctors/Professors of MCH.

It is worth noting that the appeal does not mention junior doctors and only addresses senior doctors. 

Mamata's warning goes unheeded

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday asked the agitating junior doctors across the state to resume work by 2 pm and warned of action if the order was not followed.

Banerjee, who reached the state-run SSKM hospital around 12.10 pm in the wake of disruption of medical services in several parts of the state over the past three days, directed the police to clear the hospital premises, asserting that no one apart from patients should be allowed on the campus.

She had given the doctors a four-hour deadline to rejoin service, but later revised it to 2 pm.

The doctors, however, continued the strike past the 2 pm deadline. 

The assault on the junior doctors following the death of a patient at the state-run NRS Medical College in Kolkata on Monday night left an intern seriously injured and the strike, which was initiated there, spread to medical institutions in the districts.

Emergency wards, outdoor facilities and pathological units of many state-run medical colleges and hospitals and a number of private medical facilities in West Bengal have remained closed over the past two days in the wake of the protest. 

Doctors meet Governor

A team of doctors met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at Raj Bhavan over the issue and said the chief minister's reaction to their protest was unexpected.

"We will continue with our agitation till our demands are fulfilled. We have spoken to the Governor. He listened to us and hopefully will speak to the chief minister," one of the junior doctors told reporters outside the Raj Bhavan after meeting Tripathi.

The delegation reiterated the demands of the striking doctors.

"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. Listening to her, we felt like that we were the culprits," another junior doctor said. 

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