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Top West Bengal doctors give mass resignations amid strike

Nearly 550 doctors of various state-run hospitals across West Bengal resigned from on Friday amid the ongoing agitation by the medical fraternity against the violence at NRS Medical College and Hospital here, leading to a collapse of health services and inconvenience to patients.

The mass resignations came a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee warning of strict action against protesting doctors if they do not resume work.

State junior doctors have been agitating since Tuesday demanding security for themselves in government hospitals, after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital.

On Friday, governor Keshari Nath Tripathi summoned the chief minister for a discussion on the issue and the two are likely to meet soon. Mr Tripathi also went to Institute of Neuroscience to meet junior doctor Paribaha Mukhopadhyay who was assaulted by a patient’s family, an incident that snowballed intoa nationwide agitation by doctors.

Till the reports last came in more than 550 doctors submitted their resignations to the Trinamul Congress government demanding better security, but Ms Banerjee remained unfazed despite the situation spinning out of her control.

The doctors, including heads of departments of medical colleges and other hospitals in Kolkata, Burdwan, Darjeeling and North 24 Parganas districts, sent their resignation letters to the state director of medical education, said a senior health department official.

“We express fullest solidarity to the current movement of NRS Medical College and Hosptial and other government hospitals agitating to protest the brutal attack on them while on duty,” Dr P. Kundu, director of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, said in the resignation letter.

A combative Trinamul supremo blamed the BJP for the trouble and told a rally at Kanchrapara in North 24 Parganas, “Outsiders are instigating the doctors. I had rightly said that they were involved in yesterday’s protest. I had seen some outsiders raising slogans (at SSKM hospital)”

“Please check where the boy, who was giving a statement in NRSMCH, works. He is Deepak Giri working at Calcutta Heart Research Centre in Salt Lake for 10 years. How can he become a junior doctor? I had spoken about outsiders’ presence although all of them were not,” she said.

“I just named him, where he works and how long he has been working with logic. I am not revealing which political party he has been associated with,” she said.

Hardening her stand, the chief minister insisted that those living in West Bengal will have to learn to speak in Bengali as she accused the BJP of targeting Bengalis and minorities to replicate the “Gujarat model” to capture power in the state.

Asserting that Ms Banerjee should have been humble in her approach at the SSKM hospital, actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen insisted that the TMC supremo should apologise to the agitating doctors for the alleged threats she issued to them.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury Ms Banerjee of politicising the issue of doctors’ agitation and the BJP of communalising it.

“The West Bengal government must invite health workers and resolve this humanitarian crisis on a war footing. The CM is trying to politicise instead of discharging basic responsibility. The BJP wants to communalise by highlighting the religious identity of victims of a tragedy,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, nephew of Ms Banerjee and two top Trinamul Congress leaders’ children, serving as doctors in government hospital, joined their agitating colleagues on Friday.

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 Friday.

At SSKM Hospital, where Ms Banerjee, also the health minister, declared during a visit on Thursday her threat to take steps against the doctors if they would not join their duty, 175 doctors from various departments tendered their resignations.

Closely following them, 126 doctors of R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital have resigned.

A viral video showed junior doctors and interns greeting their seniors — including many heads of the departments and faculty members — with shouting cheerful slogans “salute” and “We want justice”.

At North Bengal Medical College and Hospital 119 doctors quit their jobs. While 100 doctors resigned at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, 23 doctors quit their jobs in Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital with 20 doctors at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital.

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