KOLKATA/NEW DELHI • Thousands of doctors across India went on strike yesterday to demand better security at hospitals, days after junior doctors in the city of Kolkata were attacked. Their action left services in many government-run health facilities paralysed
The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike, with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.
The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.
Doctors demanding better security began a strike but their action was confined to the state until West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned them on Thursday, saying police did not strike when one of their colleagues was killed.
Ms Banerjee's remarks, which included a warning that junior doctors would be evicted from their college hostels if they did not go back to work, triggered a nationwide reaction. The Indian Medical Association called for a countrywide protest and demanded legislation to safeguard doctors.
Nearly 30,000 doctors started a one-day strike yesterday, most of them in West Bengal, New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, according to figures proved by medical associations.
Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tried to calm the furore, promising better security at hospitals and calling on Ms Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum.
Ms Saradamani Ray, whose 77-year-old father is a patient at the NRS Medical College, said she would have to move him because of the strike. "It will cause a lot of financial strain, but there's nothing I can do. I will have to pay."