The brutal attack on junior doctors at Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College by a patient’s family on Tuesday, June 11, has triggered a shutdown of medical services in medical colleges in all of West Bengal. The doctors were attacked after a septuagenarian patient, Mohammad Syed, passed away at the hospital. The patient’s family allegedly brought more than 200 men in trucks, who violently attacked the doctors present in the hospital.
Two junior doctors were admitted to the hospital with head injuries following the attack. One of the two injured doctors, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, suffered a deep injury in the skull, and is in a critical condition. After the incident, the doctors in NRS started protest by stopping their work. The doctors in other government hospitals also joined the protest, leading to a complete shutdown of the government medical colleges in West Bengal.
The junior doctors called for a 9-to-9 shutdown on Wednesday, June 11, in all state-run hospitals across Bengal. The senior doctors have also joined them in their protest, bringing the healthcare services across the state to a standstill. The emergency departments would remain open but the services are likely to be affected because the attendance of doctors would be low.
Fuad Halim, a doctor and Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leader, told NewsClick, “The framework of the state-run hospitals has been completely broken. The senior doctors are not present in hospitals, and as a result, the interns and junior doctors have to take on responsibilities that they are not yet prepared for. Then they end up bearing all the brunt.” He added that in 2010, the number of doctors in government hospitals was 10,400. In the eight years of TMC rule in the state, instead of growing, the number has gone down to 6,600. Dr. Halim also said that there have been more than 200 attacks on doctors in the last three years.
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Following the attack, BJP leader Mukul Roy visited NRS along with party MP Locket Chatterjee and shamelessly sought to insert a communal narrative into the matter. He told the media, “People of a particular community carried out the attack. They belong to Trinamool, which is involved in this attack. And the doctor who has been attacked is Paribaha Mukherjee,” making sure that no one could ignore the fact that the doctor who has been attacked is an upper-class Hindu.
Later, when questioned by media on his attempt at adding a communal narrative to an incident, Roy said, “Such attack on Mukherjee and his colleagues cannot be taken in a simple way. It is a planned move by a particular community and the ruling party patronised the attackers.”
A CPI(M) leader who visited NRS with Dr. Fuad Halim told the media, “The police will investigate the case and find out what happened. But it is certain that the attack was pre-planned as truckloads of hooligans were assembled and brought to the campus to attack the junior doctors.”
Dr. Halim said, “The state government is not recruiting new doctors. And the existing senior doctors spend more time in their private practice than in the hospitals. The government has not taken any steps to ensure proper functioning of the hospitals.”
He added, “The condition is similar in all government institutions across the state. Doctors get attacked in hospitals, policemen get attacked while on duty, lawyers get attacked in courthouses, teachers get attacked in the classrooms – this shows the condition of the TMC government in the state.”