Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi today attended to patients in helmets and bandages to convey their support for counterparts in West Bengal who have gone on strike to protest an attack on a colleague three days ago. According to news agency PTI, they have also decided to boycott work tomorrow.
The AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) condemned the assault on the doctor at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, and urged similar organisations across the country to join the token strike. "There is complete breakdown of law and order, with reports of mobs attacking doctor hostels with weapons. The government has failed to provide protection and justice to doctors," a statement issued by the RDA said, adding that resident doctors across the country were "deeply hurt" by the turn of events.
Junior doctors at all state-run medical institutions in West Bengal have been on strike since Tuesday, a day after family members of a dead patient assaulted a colleague at NRS hospital. The doctor, who suffered serious head injuries, is said to be in a critical condition.
Earlier today, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee issued an ultimatum that the striking doctors return to work by 2 pm. They refused to comply, saying that there was no question of doing so until proper protection was provided by the state government. While Mamata Banerjee dubbed the agitation as a "conspiracy" hatched by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the BJP, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy claimed that the junior doctor was assaulted by people affiliated to the Trinamool Congress.
The statement issued by the AIIMS RDA maintained that the West Bengal government must address the concerns of protesting doctors with immediate effect, so they can work in a secure environment. Medical staffers at the premier institution, for their part, demonstrated with placards highlighting the need to end violence against doctors.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), on the other hand, directed members of its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges in solidarity with West Bengal doctors tomorrow. It will also ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to bring out a central law against such violence.
Instances of medical personnel being assaulted by relatives of patients are fairly common across the country. In April, authorities of the RML Hospital in New Delhi filed a police complaint against a patient's relative after he allegedly slapped a woman doctor. Earlier this month, a case was registered against 17-year-old boy and his friend for allegedly assaulting a doctor at a Maharashtra hospital after his father died during treatment.