14/06/2019 9:48 AM IST | Updated 14/06/2019 12:10 PM IST

Harsh Vardhan Blames Mamata As Doctors' Protests Intensify; Says ‘Don’t Make This Prestige Issue’

Doctors are now protesting in Delhi, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra demanding a central law against attacks on them.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Kolkata doctors have found solidarity from counterparts from across the country including in Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan even as their protests entered the fourth day, despite a diktat from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Meanwhile Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said that he would like to assure the protesting doctors that the government was concerned about their safety. 

He, however, blamed Banerjee and claimed it was her diktat that stoked more protests. “I appeal to West Bengal CM to not make this an issue of prestige. She gave the doctors an ultimatum, as a result they got angry and went on strike. Today, I will write to Mamata Banerjee ji and will also try to speak to her on this issue,” he said.

The protests spread across the country as the Indian Medical Association in a statement asked its members to show solidarity and demanded a Central law against attacks on doctors. 

While resident doctors at AIIMS in New Delhi had shown begun their protest on Thursday wearing bandages and helmets during work, doctors of the Safdarjung Hospital joined in the protests on Friday.  

Being two of the biggest hospitals in Delhi, this meant a nightmare for the thousands of patients who visit these clinics every day. Dr Prakash Thakur, president of Safdarjung Hospital’s resident doctors’ association told Hindustan Times, “Around 1,600 resident doctors from Safdarjung will go on a strike tomorrow to show solidarity with the doctors from Bengal. This will affect the clinics and routine services, however, we will ensure that the emergency department functions properly.”

Doctors in Jaipur worked, but wore black bands on their arms as a mark of protest. In Chhattisgarh’s  Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial Hospital doctors raised slogans of ‘we want justice’. 

Friday will strikes in other parts of the country as well. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will join the protests, The Times of India reported, with 4,500 doctors on strike in Maharashtra. 

“All the state branches will organise dharnas before all district collectors’ offices between 10 am and 12 pm. A memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister will be handed over to the collector in every district,” the newspaper quoted an IMA statement as saying.  

The strikes were triggered by an attack on a junior doctor at the Nil Ratan Sarkar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital after a 75-year-old patient died on Sunday. Two doctors were severely injured when a mob of allegedly 200 people attacked the doctors at the hospital. 

As strikes affected medical services across the state, the BJP had blamed “a certain community” for the assault and also blamed TMC for it. 

Banerjee on Thursday threatened to take action against the doctors if they did not call of the strike. However, her threats have had little effect. 

Members of the Joint Platform of Doctors met Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and informed him of the decision to continue the protests that entered day three on Thursday. 

ANI quoted the doctors as saying, “We demand adequate security in every medical college and hospital, and proper action against those who attacked doctors in NRS Hospital on 10 June. We will resume working as soon as our demands are fulfilled.”

Meanwhile Mamata Banerjee claimed that abuses were hurled at her when she went to meet the doctors on Thursday.  “I went to the emergency section where they could have talked to me, but the language they used when I was there and the manner they abused me...

“Had somebody else been there in my place, some other action would have followed,” Banerjee told a Bengali news channel on Thursday night.

(With PTI inputs)