Kolkata: The governing body (GB) of the association of junior doctors of Kolkata held a meeting late last evening where a unanimous decision rubbishing all claims made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference she had addressed yesterday. This included the claim that she had accepted all the demands of the striking doctors.
Sources said that a few senior doctors met with the chief minister (CM) at the State Secretariat, which Banerjee passed off as a meeting with the striking doctors.
The GB issued a statement, giving its own version of the sequence of events of 15 June, which is as follows.
“On the completion of the GB meeting, we have come to certain conclusions. We have certain demands that we have listed out. The same will be read out by our brother here. At the end of the meet, we are not going to entertain or answer any questions whatsoever. Further questions will be answered only when the GB meeting, to be held tomorrow morning, is concluded.”
“The CM has finally issued a statement and we welcome it. However, we are deeply saddened by the fact that we have to answer the masses through our press release. We are more than just eager to resume our duties. We do not want such helpless situations to prevail. This is our appeal that we want to return to our duties as soon as possible. Honourable CM has said today that the Health services cannot go on like this and we too agree with it. We do not want to keep our opds shut. For her, this is a fight for her ego. For us, it is a fight for our survival.”
“As she has said, she has met all our demands. But the fact remains that no member of our fraternity has visited her. So how at all did our demands reach her ears and how did she grant them all?”
“She said that Paribaha is doing fine. Our first condition put forward to her was that she go visit him and see how he is doing. In reality, Pratibha is suffering from post-traumatic problems. He is suffering from short term memory loss and his vision has been affected. This young man who had always wanted to become an orthopaedic doctor or a surgeon will have to be on anti-epileptic medicines all life long. His dream of becoming a surgeon has been shattered and the world has lost a surgeon who wanted to serve them. Did he really deserve this?”
Dr Paribaha Mukherjee is the doctor who was the most grievously hurt in the attack by a mob of strength over 200 on 10 June after a team of doctors failed to revive an aged patient at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital.
The GB statement continues: “(The) CM said that action has been taken. If it is so then how did the attacks on Burdwan, Murshidabad, Calcutta National, NRS and Medinipur Medical Colleges happen? Stones were pelted all night long, acid bottles were thrown at girls’ hostels, female pgts were harassed with exhibitionism. On the 13th there was a mob attack on NRS Medical College and Hospital. On 14th and 15th in Murshidabad. Bankura MCH was mobbed and a doctor lost his eyes. Same happened at the Burdwan MCH. CNMC hostel was set on fire.”
“She claimed that these attacks were spontaneous reactions. We say it was organized crime. Otherwise what else could explain the entry of two trucks full people to attack us? She said, 99% of cases of violence could be stopped. Despite that, the number of evidenced cases of violence has reached up to 230+ in West Bengal. Our question is, if this is the figure after 99% violence has been blocked, what is the real magnitude of the violence? Does this spontaneous reaction promote hooliganism somewhere?”
“She said she was abused and attacked at SSKM. This was not the case. All present there were just shouting “We want justice! ” and nothing more. There was no attack or abuse. The media has seen everything. Moreover, we were threatened to resume our duties. She has compared our profession to that of policemen. What she has forgotten is that the police are formally trained for armed combat and we are not. We have our occupational hazards and we are not complaining about them. We are just saying that we cannot combat the armed mob.”
“She has remarked that this movement has become a movement of the “outsiders”. Let us clarify this: this is a fight for the whole of medical fraternity including the nurses and the paramedics. No one is an outsider here.”
“She has expressed a desire to talk to us and that is exactly what we have wanted from day 1. She has called us over to Nabanna for the meeting. We do not want a closed-door meeting. We want a meeting where everyone is present. We have no chosen committee or leader. We stand united. It is our earnest request to our CM to let the GB decide on the venue for the common good. We are always open and ready for discussion. We want things to get back to normal as early as possible.”
“The CM has said that she has deployed 3000 policemen altogether for this crisis. Now, taking into consideration some statistics, there are a total of 13,000 posts from the primary to the tertiary health care centres. Then why 3000 and not 13,000?”
“She has also said that she has spoken to the Governor and has settled things with him. However, the Governor has issued a statement that nothing of that sort has happened. He has directed her to come to meet the doctors as soon as possible to solve the crisis.”
“Above all, we do not want people to suffer any longer. We are as much agonised by the situation as you are. We apologize to the public for not being able to give them the service they deserve. We are not blaming anybody. We are hopeful that our CM being a sensible human being will strive towards making things right as soon as possible. Take one step forward and we will come ten steps forward. Here, I conclude the meet.”