JAIPUR: Medical and health services were crippled in state-run government hospitals and district community centres across Rajasthan as around 10,000 doctors went on mass casual leave on Saturday to press their demands, including raise in allowances and cancellation of cases against protesting doctors.
The BJP government had invoked the Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act (RESMA) on Thursday for three months from Sunday as the state government doctors had warned to go on indefinite strike from December 18 in support of their demands. However, on Friday, the government started random arrest of doctors from different districts.
To protest the harsh act of the government, the doctors went on mass casual leave on Saturday and have gone underground, with their phones switched off.
Doctors across the state boycotted work from early Saturday morning.
Earlier, the government, to prevent the doctors from going on strike, had issued an official notification warning them against going on mass leave or staging protests, or striking work.
The mass casual leave hit work in hospitals, primary health centres, community health centres, district and referral hospitals and medical college hospitals across the state.
Serpentine queues of patients could be seen at district primary centres and district hospitals as there was no one to tend to the patients.
Even emergency services were not available for patients.
Sources confirmed that those arrested also included the doctors association patron and president from Alwar. A total of five doctors were arrested from Sawai Madhopur, four doctors from Gangapur City, three doctors from Jalaur, two doctors from Jodhpur, besides others, taking the total count to 20.
Meanwhile, none of the officials from the medical and health departments were available for comment. Even the phone of the Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf remained unreachable while filing this report.
The doctors are demanding hazardous service allowance, increase in rural allowance and single shift hospitals. Health officials said most of the demands had already been met and the remaining ones were in the pipeline.
The doctors are also demanding the cancellation of the transfers of 12 doctors as well as of cases registered against the protesting doctors during their stir last month.