Kolkata: The striking doctors have agreed to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at 1 PM on Monday under certain conditions. They want the proceedings of the meeting to be recorded. They want media presence at the venue of the meeting.
A source in the State government said accepting media presence in the meeting may not be possible. The non-acceptance of this demand, however, has made doctors reluctant to go ahead with their decision to meet the chief minister.
Banerjee had agreed to meet the doctors last Saturday but inside the State Secretariat. When a few senior doctors, who were not a part of the strike, met with her, the chief minister passed off that meeting as one with the striking doctors at a press conference. The junior doctors convened a meeting following the press conference and rubbished Banerjee’s claims.
Now the doctors are willing to meet the chief minister at an open venue.
The decision was taken after a two-hour-long meeting of striking doctors on Sunday, late evening. They met the press after the meet, saying that two representatives each from all hospitals would form the group that would meet the chief minister.
Speaking to the media, a spokesperson of the striking doctors said that they were as concerned about the well-being of patients as anybody else. They said they were keen to return to work following the appeal by Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
However, the doctors expressed anguish at the fact that Mamata Banerjee has not accepted one of the most humanitarian demands that they had made: Meeting the critically injured Dr Paribaha Mukherjee at the hospital where he is admitted. “This is highly insensitive of the honourable chief minister,” a doctor said. “This was not a difficult demand to meet, and we did not even need to make this demand. She should have spontaneously made this gesture as healing touch,” another doctor said.
On 10 June, a murderous mob of 200 people, provoked by a Muslim family, had arrived at the Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital and assaulted the doctors there who were unable to revive a dying, aged patient. While two of the doctors were critically injured in the attack, the chief minister refused to acknowledge the crisis.
The doctors went on strike the next day, demanding security for all medical practitioners. Soon, doctors from the rest of Kolkata and all of Bengal joined the strike. By 12 June, the anger had spread across the medical fraternity in the country, and doctors all over India demonstrated and observed token strikes as a mark of solidarity with their wronged peers.
A response from the chief minister’s office, as to whether all the conditions of the striking doctors are acceptable to Mamata Banerjee for a meeting with her, is awaited. Sources in the Bengal government say the conditions of open venue and media presence may not be accepted.
One of the striking doctors told Sirf News that these conditions are “non-negotiable because she (Mamata Banerjee) lied about a meeting on Saturday”, adding, “She may claim anything about the meeting if it does not happen in the presence of journalists.”