"We Will Not Tolerate Harassment And Beating Anymore": Protesting Doctors In West Bengal
“Our demand is simple. We want the people who beat Doctor Paribaha Mukhopadhyay nearly to death, to be punished. And we want proper safety and security for ourselves so that we do not have to meet the same fate in future. Is that too much to ask for?” 24-year-old Pronil Roy, a final year student of Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (S.S.K.M. Hospital), Kolkata, tells The Logical Indian.
The doctors’ protest, which began in Kolkata, has spread to several places, including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Over 100 doctors across the state, including several senior doctors, resorted to mass resignation.
Over 100 doctors handed in their resignations in NRS Medical College and about 80 in R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital.
The protesting doctors have taken to streets, in solidarity with the junior doctors in Kolkata, demanding safety and security.
Healthcare facilities in Delhi have been widely affected as doctors at significant hospitals like AIIMS and Safdarjung joined the agitation today, June 14.
The protests erupted after a junior doctor was brutally beaten up by the kin of a patient for alleged negligence in Kolkata NRS Medical College.
The Logical Indian spoke to people from the medical fraternity, all of who are enraged at and highly disappointed in the West Bengal government.
What Happened At SSKM?
“This protest is not an attempt to land patients in trouble. On humanitarian grounds, we stand with those who are suffering, although emergency patients are being treated with all the care needed,” Pronil Roy says, “but things will have to change. They will have to get better. We want this protest to make a difference. We doctors spend half our life studying to pursue a profession that aims only at healing people. We will not tolerate being harassed and beaten up.”
Pronil paints a horrifying picture of what SSKM is now witnessing.
“In some colleges, we can see goons roaming around us, brandishing weapons. People are getting rape and acid attack threats. On June 14, all our hostels had to be evacuated,” Pronil says.
“We all had to gather inside the academic building, which houses lecture theatres, libraries and exam halls. We had to do this because they threatened to burn down our building. We took such a drastic step only to ensure our security.”
On June 14, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited SSKM and lashed out at the junior doctors for staging the protest. She served an ultimatum saying that the government will take actions if the doctors refuse to end the agitation. She called the strike a “BJP conspiracy”.
A student of SSKM, requesting anonymity, says, “while it’s harrowing that the Chief Minister visited us instead of Paribaha and his family, the least we could have expected from her was some assurance that things will be better, that we will be provided with the security that we need.”
“Instead, she lashed out at us, threatening dire consequences if we did not call off the protest. She told us that policemen and army men die while serving the nation, but they do not stage protests. She said that what happened at NRS was an accident. How do we even counter statements and questions like these?”, the student asks.
“The irony is, while we are fighting for security, we are the most insecure now.”
Why Are Doctors Resigning?
The news of the resignation of hundreds of doctors has shaken the nation.
Sanjib Mukhopadhyay, the ex-president of The Bengal Obstetrics and Gynecological Society, tells The Logical Indian, “This is a total failure on the part of the government. Senior doctors, many of who I know, are condemning the incident. It is not just about junior doctors now, it is about the entire medical fraternity. What would we do without our junior doctors?”
“This protest was needed. None of the doctors who are protesting and resigning intend to hurt the patients. Several events over the years have led to what is happening today,” Mukhopadhyay says.
Surajit Kumar Biswas, Head of the Department of Dermatology of R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, who resigned earlier today, says, “junior doctors are the lifeline of any hospital. We are resigning because doctors have been wronged over the ages and nobody has done anything about it. We are nothing without our junior doctors.”
Anasuya Mukherjee, a junior post-graduate trainee doctor stresses that this protest is not an outcome of one incident, but a culmination of many.
“There were innumerable dangerous assaults on doctors throughout the country in the last five to six years. The problem is that most of them remain unheard and unattended. We have seen small protests in individual colleges and hospitals,” Anasuya says, “in two different recent incidents in West Bengal alone, a doctor’s face was smeared with human excreta when he failed to save a sick child, and a female doctor was pushed against a wall and repeatedly slapped by a patient’s kin for alleged negligence.”
“All these incidents have piled up and built frustration and anger in both junior and senior doctors. Everyone is now retaliating,” Anasuya adds.
“The movement has gained momentum with the support of our senior father figures and common mass from different fields. This was the need of the hour,” says Dr. Angana Bhattacharjee, MBBS, from Malda Medical College And Hospital.
Enraged and furious, the doctors in the country now demanding justice. The doctor fraternity has been at the receiving end of violence and harassment for years now, and they are not ready to budge this time.