Doctors and medical students across India may have joined their fraternity in West Bengal by striking their work. The Kolkata High Court may have refused to pass an interim order against the strike in the state, instead pulling up Mamata Banerjee’s government about the steps taken to end the strike. The Indian Medical Association may have announced a day-long protest across the nation, demanding more security for doctors in the light of the recent hooliganism against junior doctors in a Kolkata hospital.
But chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s mind seems to be fixated on three things: EVM, outsiders and minorities. Even as the doctors’ strike entered the fourth day on Friday, she didn’t give a damn to their demands, but insisted all those staying in Bengal should speak Bengali.
“If you are coming to Bengal you should speak Bengali…we would not allow people come from outside and beat up Bengalis,’ Mamata Benerjee said Addressing a rally in North 24 Paraganas district. Apparently, she was referring to the BJP and its supporters as outsiders.
“Just because they have won a few seats by preprogramming the EVMs, it doesn’t mean that they can beat up Bengalis and minorities in the state,” she said referring to the recent Lok Sabha election results. (BJP has won 18 of the 42 LS seats in West Bengal.)
Mamata Benerjee also alleged that there were some outsiders raising slogans against her in SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, which she visited on Thursday. She, being also the health minister of the state had gone to talk to the protesting doctors, but ended up giving ultimatum of 2:00 PM for the doctors to resume work. The doctors though defied the ultimatum and intensified the protest, with more and more doctors from other places joining hands with them. By Friday, the protest spread to all corners of the country – from Delhi to Mumbai, Bengaluru to Hyderabad, Chennai to Thiruvanathapuram and more, crippling health services in state-run hospitals. Also, over 500 doctors, including departmental heads resigned their posts by Friday evening..
The mayhem began on the night of June 10 when 75-year-old Mohamad Sayeed died at NRS Hospital in Kolkata. He was admitted after a heart attack and died in the second attack. The relatives of deceased blamed the junior doctors for the death. Then they got two truckloads of people to arrive at the hospital with stones and bricks to attack the doctors. The mob beat up more than 20 doctors, two of whom suffered severe injuries. One of these two, Paribaha Mukherjee even suffered a depressed fracture in the skull.
Mamata Benrjee, however, did not visit the NRS Hospital, nor the victims who are under treatment. Nor did she condemn the dastardly attack on the doctors. Instead, she accused her political opponent of communalising the health service. “The BJP is telling doctors not to treat minority patients,’ she is reported as saying.
The striking doctors are demanding tighter law to punish those who attack doctors, action against the attackers in the NRS hospital incident, and enhanced security at hospitals among others.