In the backdrop of the agitation by doctors in Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday appealed to doctors to resume their work at the earliest as thousands of patients are suffering. Addressing a press briefing at Nabanna, the state secretariat, the state government stated that it wants to end the stalemate situation, adding that all the 'practical' demands of the protesting doctors will be met.
The CM in a veiled warning to the agitating doctors said that there are several steps--invoking Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) and cancellation of licenses--that could be imposed on them but the state government has refrained from taking those. CM Banerjee said that she didn't arrest a single person despite the stir continuing for the last five days, adding that no police or stringent action will be taken. She cited incidents in other states where the ESMA was imposed but added that it won't be done in Bengal as it would affect the careers of the aspiring doctors.
The CM claimed that despite repeated attempts on the part of the government to hold meetings and waiting for five hours on Friday, the agitated doctors refused to meet her. Reiterating that 'one must show respect to the constitutional body', she added that she cancelled all her programmes and waited for the doctors to turn up at the meeting.
She also accused the agitating doctors of pushing her and hurling abuses, adding that she still didn't take any action against them as "they are young and made mistakes".
The CM claimed that the agitation has some political interference, adding that some outsiders and intellectuals have joined the movement. She also said that she sent secretaries of the govt, ministers, commissioner of police to hold discussions with them, yet the junior doctors turned a deaf ear and protested on their arrivals.
She said, "We can control incidents 99 per cent of the times but if one per cent of the incidents is happening we have to take action. The police had immediately intervened and five persons were arrested but the court granted them bail."
"These are essential services which cannot be stopped. I will appeal to them through media to please join work and restore normalcy. What we have done, others will not do. We have had enough patience. I have spoken to the Governor, he is convinced. When Narendra Modi was in Gujarat, they arrested doctors and invoked ESMA," she added.
Two doctors were allegedly assaulted by relatives of a patient who had died on Monday night at the NRS hospital.
On Friday night, the agitating junior doctors declined to attend a meeting called by CM Banerjee at the state secretariat, Nabanna, saying it was a ploy to break their stir. After the protesting doctors did not turn up, Banerjee gave them time again at 5 pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, resignation by senior doctors continued in support of their protesting colleagues. Over 300 medicos across various state-run medical college and hospitals have resigned from their services.