Battling with a near-lockdown of several healthcare facilities in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee now faces dissent from within her home. The daughter of one of Mamata's key aide and a minister in her cabinet, along with her own nephew have criticised the West Bengal government's handling of the junior doctors' strike.
The medicos have been protesting since Monday when two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata by a mob following the death of a patient.
Kolkata Mayor and West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim's daughter, a doctor, has come up with strong criticism of Mamata's handling of the ongoing doctors' strike and said medicos have the right to "peaceful protest" and "safety at work.
In a Facebook post, Shabba Hakim asked people to question why "goons were still surrounding hospitals and beating up doctors".
"As a TMC supporter I am deeply ashamed at the inaction and the silence of our leader," Shabba said on the social networking site close to Wednesday-Thursday midnight.
Till then Mamata had remained silent on the issue.
"For those saying "Ono Rugider ki dosh?" (what is the fault of the other patients) Sabba suggested they should 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 goons showed up why wasn't back up sent immediately?" Hakim asked.
Apart from Shabba, Mamata’s nephew Abesh — son of the chief minister’s brother Kartick — was one of those who led a march by a team of junior doctors from KPC Medical College and Hospital in Jadavpur towards NRS Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday, The Telegraph reported.
Abesh is a student of KPC Medical College, from where Shabba has graduated.
When Mamata was asked by vernacular channels to react to these comments, she said: "Don’t ask me these personal questions. They are children. Children get emotional. They do things on the basis of those emotions. They can. Please don’t drag me down to the level of criticising children. Let them."
Meanwhile, the controversy has snowballed into an emotive issue for medicos nationwide.
The hashtag #Savethedoctors was trending on Twitter with people from far and wide corners also expressing solidarity with the West Bengal doctors.
If today you're quiet on the atrocities being committed on young doctors in Bengal, tomorrow it will be other professionals at the receiving end. Maybe your own brothers, sisters and children will face govt sponsored atrocities. We all are citizens of India #SaveTheDoctors
— The Bad Doctor (@DOCTORATLARGE) June 13, 2019
Make these governments kneel down..
Let people face 1% of what we face everyday..
Stand for Dignity and solidarity..
Be firm , Be united, keep fighting.#Savethedoctors #IstandwithNRS pic.twitter.com/AIpSIVAbsr
— Dr Amar Jain (@AmarDoc6) June 14, 2019
Today PGI Chandigarh
AlIMS Delhi, Patna, Raipur
Vardhaman Mahavir Hospital Safdarjung,
MAMC, IMS BHU, JIPMER, SGPGI Lucknow with many state medical colleges will go on complete shutdown of work (except emergency )@narendramodi @MamataOfficial @ndtv @ZeeNews #Savethedoctors
— Vikeerna Bharti (@Vikeerna) June 14, 2019
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) June 13, 2019
There was high drama as the chief minister reached the state-run SSKM hospital here at around noon amid slogans of "we want justice" by the doctors.
"I condemn the agitation. The junior doctors' strike is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP," Mamata, who also holds the health and family welfare portfolio, said and directed the police to clear the premises and only allow patients to stay.
Stating that patients were suffering, she gave the doctors a four-hour deadline to rejoin service, but later revised it to 2 pm. Warning of strict action against those who do not resume work, she said they will have to vacate hostels. Despite Banerjee's ultimatum, the agitating doctors continued their stir. A joint platform of doctors met Governor KN Tripathi, who appealed them to resume duties.
Meanwhile, doctors in the state were infuriated after Mamata's tough stance. Hindustan Times reported that as many as 18 doctors of the general medicine department of the College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital had offered to resign, saying it had become impossible to run services in the absence of junior doctors. Likewise, the principal and the medical superintendent-cum-vice-principal (MSVP) of the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College have also stepped down in solidarity with the junior doctors' agitation.
The India Medical Association has declared "All India Protest Day" on Friday against the incident and expressed solidarity with the striking doctors.
Services have been affected over the past three days in emergency wards, outpatient facilities and pathological units of many state-run medical colleges and hospitals and a large number of private medical facilities in the state due to the strike. Reports said that at least three people have died in the state, with their kin blaming it on the unavailability of doctors.
Union Heath Minister Harsh Vardhan condemned the violence against doctors in Kolkata and urged patients and their attendants to exercise restraint. He said he will take up the matter of doctors' security with all chief ministers and asked the doctors to ensure that essential services to the people are not disrupted.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2019 11:50:15 IST