Why are the Doctors of Bengal Angry?

The City of Joy isn't so joyous anymore. Doctors are resigning en masse.

West Bengal Doctors Protest

Basically, this news has been doing the rounds since Monday, 10th June 2019 due to the depth and level of the case both in National and International level. I doubt if I can add anything other than what’s already known in the case but being a citizen of Kolkata and the city is my first love as a place of massive tolerance where people of different faiths with different radical views of various wings of the Government can have friendly debates together over a cup of chai at the local roadside stalls, I can add my personal opinions to the case. Even though the issue is still unresolved, I stand by the doctors, and I do believe justice shall be served soon enough. Even though this issue gained a lot of momentum and support from all over India with every one of the medical fraternity standing in solidarity with those affected in Bengal and having protests all over the country, my focus in this article has only been upon the issues happening in the state though that doesn’t in any way diminish my heartfelt thanks to everyone who joined the protests for justice as it surely sped up the entire process. After all, Justice delayed is justice denied.

This incident begun on 10th June 2019 on Monday when after the death of a 75-year-old person in the NRS Medical College (Nil Ratan Sarkar college located in Sealdah at the heart of the city and a premier Government college in West Bengal), a mob of people stormed the Hospital and basically thrashed anyone who was associated with the institute.

During the assault Junior doctors, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani were gravely injured with the skull of the former being thrashed in (The picture made several rounds over social media), and the latter has a spine injury and fractures. (At the time of writing the article on 15th June, it has been declared that both the doctors are out of immediate danger, with Paribaha Mukhopadhyay being moved out of the ICU while Yash Tekwani remains in the ICU).Nrs Skull 1 E1560412812254 1280x720

Obviously something of this level won’t go unnoticed and especially in a system where the Goonda Raj within the city is growing at a formidable pace, and the dis-contempt of the people are boiling over, this acted as a significant spark to light the fire in doctors, who for a long time in the state have been subjected to various different problems. This resulted in mass protests all over the city. The doctors simply had the primary demand of having armed police forces to protect them and that the criminals in the mob who attacked NRS Medical college be put to justice, but their requests were thwarted by the State Government.

This caused mass discontentment between the Medical faculty and students alike all over the state, and it led to massive strikes and the shutting down of colleges. While the students were wholeheartedly supported by the faculty, the humanity of everyone pursuing the profession never went down as the emergency wards still operated (It had been falsely reported in many places that the colleges and hospitals were shut down entirely in order to turn the tide against the students and make the protest a mass failure).

To make things worse, the CM of the State went to visit SSKM hospital where she demanded or instead, ordered the students to make everything normal within the next 4 hours or vacate the premises and hostels. She even went to the lengths to compare the Doctors’ profession with that of the police, stating that even though police personnel loses their lives every day, they don’t get down on strikes so doctors shouldn’t be doing the same as well. So comparing people who are armed and whose primary duty is to take down bad guys is comparable to those unarmed and whose primary responsibility is to save lives. Within a few moments of her saying this, the hall erupted with “We want Justice” chants from students and faculty alike, and this acted as a buffer that put the entire National and International sentiment with the Doctors of the state. From the Doctor’s Association of Pakistan to the World Medical Association, everyone condemned the violence against the doctors.

Since then, the faculty of every major college in the State are resigning in droves. As 108 Doctors of NRS Medical college resigned over this, it was followed by several other mass resignations as a sign of protest. The mass unity between the students and faculty alike made this ultimate step possible. As of now, over 700 Doctors have resigned all over the State, and the state’s healthcare facility is now in a state of Coma.

As the days went by, the stone cold response of silence of the ruling party started to change as the major leaders and ministers of the state have finally come to an end since they are now issuing conciliatory statements condemning the attacks of doctors and pleading to the doctors to resume work.

As the strikes still continue and meetings between the top Doctors of the state and the Chief Minister is on the table, the Doctors are just demanding Six things to stop the protests:-

1- Detailed Press Release by the CM Condemning the Events of June 10th, a visit to the patients and the withdrawal of her statements of SSKM from 13th June

2- Evidence that proceedings are being undertaken against everyone involved in the mob attack

3- Evidence of judicial inquiry against the inability of the police to stop the mob who attacked NRS Medical college, BMCH, and various other medical colleges in the state.

4- Withdrawal of all false charges against the doctors and medical students in West Bengal

5- Written declaration sanctioning Armed and able police for protection across all Government medical facilities

6- Improvement of Infrastructure in all health facilities after proper discussion with the health care providers.

None of these demands are such that they can’t be fulfilled and these should be considered as fundamental rights of the people charged with saving lives. It’s indeed saddening to see them have to protest for the necessary facilities, including security. I certainly do hope that things pan out in favor of doctors and students in the end as this won’t be a victory for the medical community but a victory of the country as a whole, because I personally believe that in a country where even the doctors are not safe from those they are treating, then absolutely nobody is safe.

When students who have cracked the toughest exam in the country after years of immensely hard work to get in a line where they risk their lives every day by treating and being around patients with many diseases shouldn’t be at any kind of risk from mobs beating them up and risking their lives like that. They deserve the security they are demanding, and any type of violence to doctors is indirectly violence against the patients as well.

P.S – It might seem like I am a harsh critic of the current ruling party or a big supporter of the main opposition in the state, but it is certainly not so. Bengal has been a Leftist state for a very long time, and it is indeed saddening to see it turn to the extreme right in a short span of just 6 years owing to how things are being handled by the current Centre-Left political party. Even though I really don’t want the liberal and secular state of West Bengal or rather my home city of Calcutta, the city of joy being demolished in its ideals by the right-wing parties, I certainly don’t see how a Centre-Left party can hold ground and retain its position as the ruling party after the various mishaps they are doing in their tenure which overshadows all the good that they have done. At the end, I just want the country to progress as a whole regardless of whoever is ruling it.

TLDR – Bengal and the entirety of the country has been shaking by events that have happened regarding doctors being beaten up by goons in a premier government medical institute in the heart of Kolkata. With the issue boiling over and doctors going on strike, the state government has chosen to keep mum in the cases and instead of supporting the doctors went against them. This resulted in massive discontent between the Medical fraternity in the National level as well as international level and in the short span of 5 days over 700 doctors have resigned all over the state leaving the medical facility of the state in a terrible condition. The students and faculty here demand six simple things for the strikes to stop. As the movement has gained momentum, the state administration is finally condemning the attacks, and with the CM of the state set to be in a meeting with the top doctors representing everyone on strikes, things are looking good for Doctors. As of now, we can just hope that this ends positively for the medical fraternity as a win for them is a win for every common person as a whole.