KOLKATA: Agitating junior doctors of 13 state-run medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal were on Thursday locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with mercurial Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who sought to stare them down but they refused to blink.
Mamata first set a 4 pm deadline for them to resume work, but later scaled it down to 2 pm. The doctors, however, stood their ground, saying their primary demand on securing the workplace must be met for them to relent.
The doctors began their cease-work agitation on Tuesday after two of their colleagues were assaulted by a patient’s relatives.
This was Mamata’s first public intervention since the protests began. She blamed the strike on the BJP and the CPM and and warned the junior doctors of strict action if they do not resume work immediately.
Later in the evening, in a Facebook post with photographs of patients suffering from the agitation, she urged: “I appeal to all to restore normal healthcare services.”
But Mamata’s warning of strict action added fuel to the fire. “We were attacked. Instead of standing by us sympathetically, she has threatened us. We want proper security cover,” said a junior doctor at NRS hospital, which was where their colleagues were attacked on Tuesday.
A delegation of junior doctors later met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and sought his intervention. Tripathi has convened a meeting on Friday but Mamata had refused to attend saying law and order was a state subject. She holds both home and health portfolios.