KOLKATA: As defiant striking doctors skipped a meeting with her for the second day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday extended an olive branch to them by promising not to invoke the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and appealed to them to resume work immediately.
"For the sake of humanity, I do not want to invoke the ESMA Act in the state. I want the junior doctors to resume work as we have accepted all their demands. Thousands of people are awaiting medical treatment," she a press conference as the strike by doctors continued for the fifth day.
Banerjee said that the state government will bear all medical expenses for the treatment of the two junior doctors, who were assaulted in a Kolkata hospital that triggered the strike.
"The state government is fully committed to taking the necessary steps. We have taken the decision to bear all the expenses of medical treatment of the junior doctor who is admitted at a private hospital," the TMC supremo said.
Banerjee asserted that she had cancelled all official engagements just to meet the agitating doctors but they did not meet her.
"I had sent my ministers, Principal Secretary to meet the doctors. We waited for five hours to meet doctors delegations yesterday and today, but they did not come. You have to give respect to the Constitutional body," she added.
Terming the June 10 incident as "unfortunate", the TMC supremo said that her government did not arrest a single doctor and promised that no stringent action will be taken.
"We never arrested a single person. We will not take any police action. Health services cannot continue like this. I am not going to take any stringent action. Let good sense prevail. We want a peaceful resolution to the issue," Banerjee said.
"The state government is committed to resuming normal medical services at the soonest. The incident on 10th June was unfortunate. We had continuously tried to reach a solution," she added.
The ongoing strike by the medical practitioners entered its fifth day in West Bengal. Both the junior and senior doctors are on strike from the past five days after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured over an issue of alleged negligence at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata on Monday.
On Friday, doctors of several hospitals across the country such as AIIMS of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana went on a strike in solidarity with the doctors of West Bengal, demanding safe environment for them.
The Centre has sought a report from the state government on measures taken to resolve the ongoing strike by doctors.
"This Ministry is in receipt of a number of representations from doctors, health care professionals and medical associations from different parts of the country for their safety and security in view of the ongoing strike by doctors in West Bengal. It is requested that a detailed report be sent urgently on the representations and the ongoing strike by the doctors," a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had written a letter to Banerjee urging her to "personally intervene" to resolve the woes of agitating doctors in the state.
The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) urged the doctors to call off their strike, saying that children are dying for lack of timely critical medical services.