Kolkata/New Delhi: Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abesh Banerjee, a medical student, has extended his support to the doctors on strike in Bengal.
In a Facebook post, Abesh Banerjee, a nephew of the West Bengal chief minister, said he was the president of the KPC Medical College and Hospital. He was seen holding a placard which read, “You say we are Gods! Why Treat us like Dogs?”
The demonstration by the chief minister’s nephew follows a nationwide agitation by doctors. On 10 June at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College, Kolkata, a State-run medical institution in West Bengal, goons attacked and beat up doctors on the pretext of negligence. These hooligans were brought in trucks allegedly by the relatives of a 75-year-old patient who had died a night before the incident.
Two junior doctors were beaten up. A junior doctor was assaulted so gruesomely that his skull fractured. The doctors say that a huge crowd arrived at the NRS Medical College and Hospital that night and the next morning and started a ruckus over there. The junior doctors in the morning shift locked themselves up inside the hospital gates, stopped work at the outpatients’ department, and started a dharna to protest the attack. Several junior doctors shut the gates of the NRS hospital on 11 June to protest the assault on doctors and demanded that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee provide security to the doctors. All departments, including pathological laboratories and the outpatients’ department, stopped working following the demonstrations by the junior doctors.
In support of the doctors of the NRS Medical College, doctors of the other government-run hospitals have joined the strike. Senior doctors also have joined the cause of the junior doctors and now the situation is that many of them have resigned in support of the protest. The doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Science have joined the demonstration in support of the cause of the atrocities on the doctors at the NRS hospital.
The patients are complaining about the strike as they are helpless and have no alternative. On 12 June, the chief minister of West Bengal intervened in the matter. She issued an ultimatum to the agitating doctors to join work by 2 PM; otherwise. She said, she would not support them.
But the doctors have defied the ultimatum and continued their protest. The doctors demand that there should be effective police protection in the hospitals so that similar incidents do not take place in the future.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) gave instructions to its members in all the State branches to stage protests and wear black badges on 14 June, and the doctors did exactly the same on Friday.
The IMA had communicated further to all its State presidents and secretaries to organise demonstrations in front of the district collectors’ offices from 10 AM to 12 noon on 14 June and hand over a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi via collectors in every district.
The IMA called a nationwide strike on 17 June as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the atrocity at the NRS Medical College. The IMA said that all non-essential services, including OPDs, would be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 AM. Emergency and casualty services will continue to function.
Veteran film personality Aparna Sen, actor Kaushik Sen, musician Debojyoti Mishra along with senior doctors from divergent fields have extended their support to the protesting doctors. The celebrities visited them at the NRS Medical College and hospital. Some of the personalities urged the chief minister to find a solution to the crisis.
In a Facebook post, Shabba Hakim, daughter of Kolkata Mayor and State minister Firhad Hakim, asked people why “goons were still surrounding hospitals and beating up doctors”. The daughter of the Kolkata mayor said that the doctors had the right to “peaceful protest” and “safety at work”.
The West Bengal chief minister could be heard saying via television news channels that outsiders were behind the instigation of agitation of doctors in West Bengal.
The Calcutta High Court on 14 June refused to pass an interim order on the strike by junior doctors in protest against the attack on two of their colleagues by family members of a patient.
A division bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Suvra Ghosh asked the State government to persuade the striking doctors to resume work and provide usual services to the patients.
The high court directed the West Bengal government to apprise it of the steps taken following the attack on the junior doctors. The next date for the hearing of the petition is fixed on 21 June. A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court in protest of the atrocities on the doctors.
On 14 June, both private and government hospital doctors in Delhi observed a black day. They did not resume work on Friday. They met Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to express solidarity with the protesting doctors in West Bengal and condemned the said incident of violence.
The said demonstration has had a toll on out-patient departments and diagnostic services at several large hospitals in Delhi, including at the AIIMS, Lok Nayak Hospital, GTB Hospital, Hindu Rao, Ganga Ram Hospital. Only emergency and ward services were functional.
Fix the responsibility: Supreme Court lawyer
Surajit Dasgupta adds: Sirf News spoke to Supreme Court lawyer Amitabh Sinha about the worsening situation in Bengal, which is affecting the medical service nationwide. When asked for his reaction to the 10 June incident, Sinha said, “It’s a government hospital where the doctors are overworked. It’s the government that should be held responsible for both the shortage of staff and inadequacy of enough hospitals in the country. Here, the hospital concerned is the NRS Medical College and Hospital, which is run by the Bengal government. The Mamata Banerjee administration must certainly ensure the security of the doctors. Why is she not coming forward to assure the agitating doctors?”
Sinha said the issue would have been different in the case of a private hospital where money may decide the conduct of the doctors.
The senior lawyer spoke on the larger issue of the overall collapsing system of Bengal, too. It was pointed out that the people across the country had welcomed Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress’s victory in the 2011 election, ending a 34-year long communist rule. Sinha said, “That was misplaced exuberance. A politician who has been trained in the school of Congress can never be pro-development.”
“The Congress mastered the art of ruling and any politician in that party or coming out of it can only know how to maintain the rule,” Sinha said.
“The narrative of realpolitik in post-independence India was the British narrative of colonial politics until the Narendra Modi government started transforming it. An essential part of the British and Congress style of ruling the country is ‘don’t do anything; only show that you are doing something’. From 2014 onwards, this narrative has changed,” Sinha added.