Doctors in major metro cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, will be protesting on Friday, June 14, in solidarity with their counterparts in Kolkata, who are on a strike over an attack on their colleague.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) called for a nationwide protest on Friday, urging all medical professionals to wear black bands and the state units to hold a demonstration. AIIMS Resident Doctor's Association also issued a statement saying that they will observe a pan-India strike and only emergency services will remain functional.
Kolkata's Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital is the epicentre of these protests, which were triggered when the family members of an octogenarian patient, who passed away, attacked the resident doctors – Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani - alleging medical negligence.
While Mukhopadhyay wound up with a fractured skull and is currently in a coma, Tekwani is said to be admitted to the ICU.
Following the attack, the junior doctors of NRS locked up the hospital gates and stopped work at the outpatient department (OPD) as a mark of protest. The incident triggered widespread demonstrations across the state-run medical college and hospitals in West Bengal.
The protesting doctors refused to call off the demonstration even after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the state-run SSKM Hospital on Thursday and gave the doctors a four-hour ultimatum. The CM also visited the OPD and emergency wing of the hospital, which remained closed.
"This cannot be tolerated. They will have to get back to work. Many policemen die on duty but do policemen go on strike? I give them four hours to join duty or action will be taken against them. I ask the police to see that outsiders are not allowed in hostels. We will also withdraw government support (stipends) to interns if they do not join work. I saw patients waiting for treatment and some of them are critical," Banerjee reportedly said after the visit.
She also blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that they are giving these protests a communal colour and fuelling the agitation.
Director of Medical Education Dr Pradip Kumar Mitra wrote to principal and directors of all medical college hospitals telling them to resume work immediately.
"You are requested to ensure the resumption of normal patient care services in the Out Patient Department and Emergencies immediately. Please issue an order on the doctors to take up duty immediately to run these services. Action may be taken on those who will obstruct in discharging duties by the doctors in OPDs and Emergency," he said.
Professor Saibal Kumar Mukherjee, principal of NRS Medical College and Hospital, and Professor Saurabh Chattopadhyay, medical superintendent and vice principal, also resigned from their posts on Thursday. They cited "regret for being unable to overcome the crisis" as the reason.
Meanwhile, doctors at AIIMS worked wearing helmets and bandages as a mark of protest against "worsening of violence against medical doctors in West Bengal."
The IMA's statement, released to call a demonstration on Friday, called the incident in Kolkata "barbaric. "The national law against violence on hospitals has to be brought in urgently. The law should provide a minimum of seven years of imprisonment for hospital violence," the statement read.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) also called for a day-long strike across all government hospitals on Friday to protest against the assault. Doctors at JJ Hospital in Mumbai joined the strike on Friday.
Prashant Choudhary, President MARD, Sion Hospital, Mumbai: A mob assaulted doctors on duty at a hospital in West Bengal, when a targeted attack like this happens it becomes a law and order issue. Today, we are doing a silent protest over the incident. pic.twitter.com/qSOJ79ooc3— ANI (@ANI) June 14, 2019
Doctors in Raipur also came out in support of their colleagues in Kolkata.
Doctors at the government medical college in Nagpur assembled with posters of 'Save the Saviour' and 'Stand with NRSMCH'.
The Safdarjung Hospital also held protests.
Doctors from Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram also joined the strike.
The Union Health Minister appealed to the doctors to resume services and carry out a symbolic protest instead, assuring them that the government is committed to their safety.
"I appeal to West Bengal CM to not make this an issue of prestige. She gave the doctors an ultimatum; as a result, they got angry and went on strike. Today, I will write to Mamata Banerjee ji and will also try to speak to her on this issue," he reportedly said.