Doctors seek Mamata's apology as protests spread across India

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Junior doctors protest in Kolkata following the attack on a junior doctor at the NRS Hospital there. Photo: PTI
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New Delhi: The stir by junior doctors protesting assault on two of their colleagues at a hospital in Kolkata assumed nationwide proportions Friday with government doctors in various states expressing solidarity and resorting to agitations.

The protests began after a patient's relatives assaulted the doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata on Sunday night.

The doctors have demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's unconditional apology and set six conditions for the state government to withdraw their four-day-long stir that disrupted healthcare services across West Bengal.

Among other things, they are pressing for more stringent laws to protect them from such assaults.

Banerjee, who visited the state-run SSKM Hospital on Thursday, warned the junior doctors of consequences if they do not rejoin work, but the defiant agitators have refused to abide by the order. They asserted that the protests would continue till their demands are fulfilled.

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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) launched a three-day nationwide protest from Friday to express solidarity with the doctors and called for a strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.

In Delhi, scores of doctors at several government and private hospitals held demonstrations by boycotting work, marching and raising slogans.

They also met Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and apprised him of the medical fraternity's demand of ensuring safety and security of doctors in face of any violence in hospital premises.

In a letter to Banerjee, the Union minister has urged her to ensure an "amicable end" to the protests and provide a secure working environment for doctors.

Around 4,500 resident doctors in Maharashtra, including some 2,800 in Mumbai, went on a one-day strike.

The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) had declared that junior doctors at government hospitals in the state will not perform surgeries or attend to out-patient departments (OPDs) between 8 am and 5 pm Friday.

In Hyderabad and other places in Telangana, Junior doctors staged protests against the assault at major state-run hospitals, including Gandhi hospital and Osamania General hospital in the city, P S Vijayender, a leader of the junior doctors association in Telangana, said.

In Jaipur, doctors at the SMS government hospital wore black bands and helmets to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in West Bengal.

Doctors from other districts of Rajasthan also took part in the token protest, according to a report.

In Raipur, around 400 junior doctors of Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Hospital, Raipur - the biggest government hospital in the state - staged a protest from 8 am to 2 pm in premises of the medical facility.

The services at the state-run Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at Panaji and its facilities across the state were partially affected Friday as several doctors went on a one-day strike.

In Chandigarh, over 1,200 resident doctors at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) held a demonstration to express solidarity with their protesting counterparts in Kolkata.

In Coimbatore, over 100 doctors staged a dharna in front of the government hospital to protest against the assault of a junior doctor in Kolkata.

Mamata's nephew, Kolkata mayor's daughter join the protest

Nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and children of two top Trinamool Congress leaders are among the doctors agitating in West Bengal over the assault on their colleagues.

Abesh Banerjee, son of the TMC supremo's brother Kartick Banerjee, is a doctor at KPC Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.

With a poster in hand, he was seen at the protest in his college on Thursday and Friday.

Kolkata Mayor and state urban development minister Firhad Hakim's daughter Shabba, also a doctor, had on Thursday criticised the state government on social media for its alleged inaction in the matter.

"As a TMC supporter I am deeply ashamed at the inaction and the silence of our leader," Shabba Hakim posted on Facebook.

Referring to those who have been raising concern over the fate of patients in the wake of the strike, she said, "For those saying 'Ono Rugider ki dosh? (how are other patients at fault?)' Please question the government as in why the police officers posted in government hospitals do little to nothing to protect doctors? Please question them that when 2 truckload of goon showed up why wasn't back up sent immediately?"

"Please question why goons are still surrounding hospitals and beating up doctors? We have a right to peaceful protest. We have a right to safety at work," she added.

Baidyanath, the son of senior TMC leader and MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, also showed solidary with the agitators at NRS Medical College and Hospital.

"I stand with NRS. To hell with politics....I personally apologise to all the doctors if any unfair comments have been made against them," he said on Facebook.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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