How the strike came to end?
Junior doctors in West Bengal called off their strike ending the seven-day standoff, between them and the State government over lack of security at the workplace.
The truce was achieved following a two-hour meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who assured them of improved security.
What was the reason for strike?
State’s medical services were paralysed after junior doctors were assaulted in Nilratan Sarkar Medical College (NRS) following the death of a patient.
Here’s what turned the protest into a mass protest by doctors across the country.
The timeline of events
Seventy-five-year old Mohammed Sayeed reportedly succumbed to illness in NRS Medical College on Monday evening. His family however, alleged negligence in treatment and roughed up junior doctors. Later that night, when the deceased’s family returned to take his body, doctors demanded an apology for the alleged misbehaviour meted out to them. Soon after, clashes broke out between ‘intern’ doctors and the patient’s family, resulting in serious injury of two interns Paribaha Mukherjee and Yash Tekwani.
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Abhishek Banerjee’s appeal failed to make a mark
What didn’t go unnoticed in the turn of events was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s delay in addressing the situation. Incidentally, the chief minister holds the health and family welfare of portfolio too.
Chief Minister’s ultimatum to doctors
On Thursday afternoon, Mamata Banerjee served a four hour ultimatum on junior doctors – either resume services or be ready to be evicted from hostels. Pandemonium prevailed in SSKM Hospital as Banerjee made explosive comments on junior doctors and termed them as ‘outsiders’. She also said, “This is an absolute conspiracy by BJP and CPM.” To which, doctors protested in unison, with “shame shame” and “we want justice” slogans. Banerjee’s dispassionate tone to address the issue resulted in mass resignations or threats to resign among doctors of several other hospitals.
Banerjee’s softer appeal to senior doctors
By late evening on Thursday, a letter was sent to senior doctors urging them to co-operate and not deny poor people immediate medical attention. “I will be obliged and honoured if you all take full care of the hospitals. Hospitals must run smoothly and peacefully,” Banerjee wrote in the letter.
Strikes snowball into nationwide protests
The Indian Medical Association has announced an all India Protest Day on Friday in solidarity of the strike in West Bengal. By afternoon, medical practitioners from across the country led silent marches and wore black bands as a mark of protest.
Opposition’s role in the strikes
While doctors went on record to accuse the Chief Minister of failing to address the crisis, the BJP also saw political opportunity to occupy the space and politicised the protest. Mukul Roy, a prominent BJP leader, hinted at a communal narrative and how people of a certain community initiated the attacks on doctors.