Striking doctors reject Mamata’s call for a meeting

Striking junior doctors of state-run hospitals in Kolkata on Saturday rejected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's invitation to a meeting to resolve the impasse and continued their protest for the fifth consecutive day. Reports said relatives of at least three senior Trinamool Congress leaders, including Mamata, have backed the strike by the doctors.

Mamata's nephew Abesh, Kolkata Mayor and close Mamata aide Firhad Hakim's daughter Shabba and party lawmaker Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar's son Baidyanath came out in support of the doctors. Abesh, Shabba and Baidyanath are doctors by profession. The doctors, who are protesting against the assault on two of their colleagues at Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital, had on Friday sought an unconditional apology from Mamata for her alleged threat and set six conditions for the state government in order to withdraw their stir.

"We are not going to the secretariat upon the invitation of the chief minister for the meeting. She will have to come to the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital and deliver an unconditional apology for her comments made on Thursday," Arindam Dutta, spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, said.

Mamata, who had visited the state-run Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital on Thursday amid doctors’ slogans of "we want justice", had contended that “outsiders” were creating disturbances in the medical colleges and the ongoing agitation is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP.

Meanwhile, resident doctors of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital, who boycotted work on Friday in protest against attacks on their colleagues in Kolkata, today returned to work but gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Mamata to meet the demands of the state's agitating doctors, failing which they said they would go on an indefinite strike.

"We condemn the hostile and unapologetic attitude of the government of West Bengal. Our protest at AIIMS, New Delhi continues until justice is meted out. "According to the decision taken in a general body meeting held on June 14, RDA issues an ultimatum of 48 hours to the West Bengal government to meet the demands of the striking doctors there, failing which we would be forced to resort to an indefinite strike at AIIMS, New Delhi. We hope that our colleagues across the nation will join us in this hour of need," the AIIMS RDA said in a statement.

They expressed their gratitude to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for his prompt and proactive steps to resolve the impasse. We sincerely hope that he will address this matter of utmost importance with the urgency that it merits," they said. Safdarjung Hospital RDA president Parakash Thakur also echoed a similar stand on the matter.