Bengal doctors call off strike as Mamata accepts demands

 

Police officers help a patient who left after not getting treatment at a government hospital during a strike by doctors in Kolkata.— Reuters
Police officers help a patient who left after not getting treatment at a government hospital during a strike by doctors in Kolkata.- Reuters

Kolkata, India - The protests began last week after three junior doctors were seriously injured in an attack by family members of a relative.

By Reuters, IANS

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Published: Mon 17 Jun 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Jun 2019, 1:06 AM

Doctors in West Bengal called off a strike late on Monday after authorities promised improved hospital security, ending a week-long dispute that had spread to other parts of the country and crippled medical services.
The protests began last week after three junior doctors were seriously injured in an attack by family members of a relative who had died at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata, the state's capital city.
"We are calling off the stir as the CM (Chief Minister) has assured zero tolerance with regard to assaults on doctors," one junior doctor told a late-night news conference. He did not give his name.
"We had a 12-point demand. The chief minister has accepted all of them. Everyone has seen the live broadcast of our meeting with her. Banerjee said she will take necessary steps to revamp the security and infrastructure at the hospitals as soon as possible," a representative said. "We will get back to our duty as early as possible," said another second junior doctor who also gave no name.
Loud cheers, whistles, and claps greeted the announcement of withdrawal of the junior doctors' strike, as the protesting young medicos at NRS Hospital rejoiced at their victory after Banerjee accepted the  demands on Monday.
"It is our victory," said an intern, who had been shouting "We want justice" through the seven days of the "cease work" that started in protest against the brutal attack on two junior doctors by family members of a dead patient at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital on Monday night.
The issue snowballed, as doctors across the state stopped work at the outpatient departments in most government hospitals, while angry medicos all over the country erupted in protest against the assault on their colleagues in Bengal.
But on Monday evening, the doctors at the NRS beamed with happiness, even as some of them threw barbs at the chief minister for having called them outsiders", "urban Naxals", "CPI-M cadre" and "BJP workers".
"It is our victory in the sense that we have forced the Chief Minister to tone down her earlier aggressive stand. We have made her realise that she cannot browbeat everyone," said a junior doctor. Some doctors at the gathering also broke into a chorus "Amra Kara? Lokkhi Chele (Who are we? We are good boys)" and "Hip Hip Hurray".
Only a short while ago, Banerjee had lovingly addressed as "Lokkhi Chele" the 31 junior doctors, representing all medical colleges in the state, during a meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna - days after calling them names.
But most of the doctors expressed happiness at Banerjee's cordial and "positive" attitude during the over one and a half hour meeting. The Chief Minister not only listened to the protesters patiently, she also passed off instructions to the senior bureaucrats and police officers present at the meeting to implement most of the proposals given by the doctors.
"Our representatives have shared our demands with the Chief Minister and the entire meeting was very positive," Atanu Ganguly, an intern, said. As soon as the meeting ended, the gatherings of doctors cheered loudly, whistled spontaneously and clapped incessantly.
"We heard our chief minister speak and I have full faith in her. Now we hope our worries will end," a female intern said. The overall sentiments were of mirth and gaiety. Some of them planned to order 'Biryani' while distancing themselves from media cameras.
Even the nursing staff were happy that their demands had reached the chief minister.
Earlier on Monday, thousands of doctors had protested outside hospitals across India, holding placards and wearing black arm bands and bloodied mock bandages and demanding improved security and working conditions.
The Indian Medical Association, which represents more than 300,000 doctors and half-a-million junior doctors, medical students and other staff, said almost all its members, apart from those providing emergency services, had joined the protests.
 



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