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Bengal doctors reject Mamata Banerjee's plea to call off strike

June 17, 2019

Doctors in West Bengal are showing no signs of calling off their strike even after a late-night meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. They said the government could not force them to come back to work. The doctors' strike was triggered after an attack on two junior doctors by a patient's family on Monday. It has spilled over to other states.

Doctors turned down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Banerjee and asked her to visit the hospital where the attack took place. "We are eagerly waiting to start our duty, but from the Chief Minister's side there is no such honest initiative to find a solution (of the ongoing problem)", said the doctors to the news agency, PTI.

The Chief Minister assured the doctors that the government would not invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). "We have the laws, but we do not want to use them. We are not going to take any stringent action against any of the agitating junior doctors and hamper their career".

The protest has paralysed medical services in the state. The doctors have set six conditions to end their stir, including an unconditional apology from Banerjee for remarks against the agitation and action against those who assaulted their colleague.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote to all chief ministers, calling for strict action against anybody who assaults doctors. He has asked states to enact specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.

The Kolkata Citizens Forum has requested the striking doctors to ensure treatment of serious injuries, particularly in children, women and the elderly. The Forum took a rally out on Sunday supported the call for strict action against those who harass or assault doctors.



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