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News & Information From Northeast India

Striking doctors in West Bengal reject CM Mamata’s call for talks

Striking junior doctors in West Bengal on Saturday once again turned down Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposal for talks at the state secretariat – Nabanna, and stuck to their stand that she would have to come down to NRS Medical College and Hospital to listen to their grievances.

Thirty four doctors at Kalyani’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital also tendered their resignations in solidarity with the state’s government hospital doctors who resigned on Friday, the hospital authorities said.

“Yesterday, the director medical education of West Bengal University of Health Sciences verbally informed us that chief minister has asked to meet some of our representatives at her office. For the last two days, the CM has made offensive and inappropriate statements directed towards doctors.

“Following that, we faced mob attacks and physical assaults at different medical and dental colleges and hospitals across the state. We are deeply upset and hopeless and we feel highly insecure and apprehensive about our representatives’ meeting with her behind the closed doors. That is why we are not sending any representative to her office,” Abhishek Sarkar, an intern at the college told reporters after their general body meeting.

The doctors said that right from the beginning they were “open to a healthy discussion”.

“We want an urgent solution to this situation. We shall resume our duties as soon as our demands for proper security and safety at work place are met. We humbly request the Chief Minister to meet all of us at NRS Medical College and Hospital and discuss and implement all our demands at the earliest,” said Sarkar reading out a statement by the agitating doctors.

The statement also mentioned that the doctors were deeply concerned about the sufferings of the common people.

The invite from the chief minister’s secretariat to the junior doctors was sent after five senior doctors, led by Sukumar Mukherjee, called on Banerjee and offered to mediate to resolve the stalemate, which has paralysed medical services at the state’s government hospitals.

After the offer was declined, the talks were deferred till 5 pm on Saturday, so as to give the quintet of veterans time enough to persuade the medicos to attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, health services in West Bengal’s state-run hospitals remained partially disrupted on Saturday as the “cease work” by junior doctors, protesting against attacks on their colleagues and demanding adequate security measures, continued for the fifth day.

Though the out-patient departments remained closed, the emergency services in all the state-run hospitals, including the NRS, were functional on Saturday, doctors said.

“The junior doctors are still on strike, but the emergency services are open,” West Bengal Doctors Forum President Arjun Sengupta told the media.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) President Santanu Sen on Friday held a meeting with the senior doctors and administrative authorities at the NRS Hospital to find a possible solution to the ongoing impasse.

However, the agitating doctors claimed that the meeting would not bear any positive outcome because Sen was a Rajya Sabha MP of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.

Sen courted a controversy saying that “some non-medical persons with vested interests were brain-washing junior doctors to let the chaotic situation persist”.

After their general body meeting, the striking doctors held a demonstration at the hospital premises condemning Sen’s comment.

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