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West Bengal Doctor Crisis: Protesting doctors agree to meet Mamata Banerjee in presence of full media even as IMA goes on strike

The situation in West Bengal is still grave and fear of violence is present in all medical colleges and major hospitals, the IMA claimed.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared that it is going ahead with its strike on June 17 with the withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country in the wake of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal.

Reportedly, the IMA has stated that all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6.00 AM on Monday to 6.00 AM on Tuesday. Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said.

The medical body had launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers. It had also called for a countrywide strike on June 17 with the withdrawal of non-essential health services.

The situation in West Bengal is still grave and fear of violence is present in all medical colleges and major hospitals, the IMA claimed.

“Security measures and the determinants leading to violence should also be addressed. Exemplary punishment of perpetrators of violence should be a component of the Central law,” it said.

“Suitable amendments should be brought in IPC and CrPC. Effective implementation of Law has to be ensured by incorporating suitable clauses. 19 States have already passed legislation in this regard. Hospitals should be declared as “Safe Zones”,” the IMA demanded.

The doctors have also asked for structured safety measures including 3-layer security, CCTV and restriction of entry of visitors which should be enforced uniformly across the country.

The protesting junior doctors have now agreed to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna at 3:00 PM today. However, the doctors have said that the meeting would have to be “in the full view of the media” and not “behind closed doors”.

The medical fraternity across the country hit the streets against Mamata Banerjee following the continuous attacks against junior doctors in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal had gone to war against the doctors by calling them ‘outsiders’ after they decided to protest against the continuous attacks against junior doctors in the state.

Initially, the West Bengal doctors crisis began as a small protest by a group of junior doctors at the state-run SSKM Hospital after doctors and interns at the NRS Hospital were brutally attacked by a mob on the premises of the hospital after a patient named Mohammed Sayeed reportedly died of natural causes.

As the protest began attacks against doctors further escalated and mobs attacked students and interns at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital as well. Due to the state government’s apathy towards the assaulted doctors, the protest gradually took a nationwide dimension with doctors from all across the country pouring in with their support and raising voices of dissent against the West Bengal government.

The CM aggravated the situation by threatening the doctors and by asserting that the doctors protesting are ‘outsiders’. Following which there were mass resignations from doctors across the state. Reports indicate that as many as 500 doctors have resigned from their posts so far. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced a pan-India strike from 17th June to 18th June.

As Mamata Banerjee sensed that the situation was out of her control, Mamata Banerjee decided that the impasse between the doctors and her government should be ended and has repeatedly requested the doctors to end their protest and get back to work.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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