The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday issued an advisory to the West Bengal government on the ongoing strike by doctors and sought a report on the matter on priority, said sources familiar with the development.
The latest advisory states "this Ministry is in receipt of a number of representations from doctors, health care professionals and medical associations from different parts of the country for their safety and security in view of the ongoing strike by doctors in West Bengal. It is requested that a detailed report be sent urgently on the representations and the ongoing strike by the doctors."
The MHA has sought a report from the West Bengal government regarding the measures in place to strengthen security for the doctors, who are currently on strike in the state.
The doctors are currently on strike after a brutal assault on two junior doctors earlier this week at a Kolkata hospital.
Slamming the Centre for seeking a report on doctors' strike, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "There is peace in Bengal. In a democratic system, people having grievances often resort to strike. It does not mean that everything is bad with the state government.
"The state government looks after education, health and many other important issues. The Centre only looks after border security, internal security, external affairs and financial matters. They should concentrate on their duty first."
On Saturday night, the striking doctors rejected a proposal from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna, and stuck to their demand that she would have to come down to the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the protest movement, to listen to their grievances and apologise for "casting aspersions" on them.
Though the out-patient departments remained closed, emergency services in all the state-run hospitals, including the NRS, were functional on Saturday, doctors said.
"The strike by the junior doctors is still on. However, the emergency departments are open to treat the patients in serious condition. As of now, no decisions have been made regarding holding any meeting with the state administration," West Bengal Doctors Forum President Arjun Sengupta told IANS.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday called for punitive action against those attacking healthcare professionals, saying "strict action must be taken against any one who assaults them."
In a letter to Chief Ministers of all the states, Vardhan cited recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee in 2017 that suggested that state governments should enact legislation to protect doctors and healthcare professionals.
Asked about this, Banerjee said, "He should concentrate on the country first."
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