Media can apologise on my behalf: Mamata Banerjee on doctors' strike

Bengal government has said that it is ready to meet all the 'practical' demands of the protesting doctors. 

Kolkata: The logjam over junior doctors' ongoing strike continued on Sunday as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has refused to apologise to them – a precondition set by the agitating doctors before talks.

According to reports, the West Bengal CM, while addressing a press conference, said that media can apologise on her behalf in order to end the impasse over doctors' strike.

On doctors' another demand for visiting the NRS Medical College and Hospital, Banerjee said that she will decide where to go and where not to. 

Mamata, however, said that her government wants to end the stalemate and ready to meet all the 'practical' demands of the protesting doctors. 


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Despite assurance from the West Bengal Chief Minister, the junior doctors continued their ongoing strike on Sunday and said that they are ready to meet her but the venue of the meeting would be decided later. 

The agitating doctors had on Saturday turned down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Banerjee at the state secretariat and had instead asked her to visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital for an open discussion to resolve the impasse.

"We are open for dialogue always. If the chief minister extends one hand we will extend 10 of ours... We are eagerly waiting to break the deadlock," their spokesperson said.

The agitating doctors said they would wait for their governing body to decide on the proposed venue for the meeting.

The agitating doctors had also turned down Banerjee's request saying there was no honest effort on her part to break the deadlock.

"We are eagerly waiting to start our duty, but from the chief minister's side there is no such honest initiative to find a solution (of the ongoing problem)," he had said earlier in the night.

The agitating junior doctors also rubbished her claims that a few of their colleagues visited her at the state secretariat.

Banerjee, during a press conference at the state secretariat, had urged the agitators to resume work and said her government has accepted all their demands.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory seeking a report on the stir. In its advisory, the MHA said it has received a number of representations from doctors, healthcare professionals and medical associations from different parts of the country for their safety and security in view of the strike in West Bengal.

But she reacted sharply to it and said such advisory should be "sent to states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where several murders are reported since the last couple of years".

Bengal Governor KN Tripathi also wrote to Banerjee advising her to take immediate steps to provide security to the medicos and find out a solution to the impasse. 

Banerjee later said that she has spoken to the Governor and apprised him about the steps taken by the state government to resolve the impasse.

She also said her government has not invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) even after five days of the strike by the junior doctors.

"We have the laws, but we do not want to use them... We are not going to take any stringent action against any of the agitating junior doctors and hamper their career," she told a news conference after the agitators did not turn up for a meeting at 5 PM.

The strike began on Monday night when two junior doctors of NRS hospital were injured in an attack by relatives of a patient, who died.

On the mass resignation of the doctors across the state, she said it was not legally tenable.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence in the wake Bengal assault on junior doctors.

Patients in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and many other cities faced hardships as the protest by doctors, in solidarity with their striking colleagues in Bengal, continued in several government hospitals.

(With Agency inputs)