Senior doctors in Uttar Pradesh called off their strike early on Thursday after Essential Services Maintenance Act (Esma) was invoked against them on Wednesday. The act includes "essential services" in its charter and prohibits key employees in these services from striking. The four day long strike by the junior doctors was called off on Thursday afternoon after a general body meeting of the junior doctors association, with the King George’s Medical University administration.
The senior doctors of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College (GSVM) in Kanpur resumed their duties at LLR hospital and six affiliated hospitals after six days of strike, which claimed 27 lives and crippled medical services across the city and state.
The doctors consulted lawyers following the Allahabad high court's directives that they should return to work or their defiance would be treated as contempt.
The Lucknow bench of the high court on Wednesday had taken suo moto cognisance of the ongoing strike of the doctors in the state and ordered a judicial probe into the events at GSVM on February 28.
Seeking to know from the state government about the action taken so far, the bench of justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and justice DK Upadhyaya also ordered the transfer of the inspector general, deputy inspector general and Kanpur's senior superintendent of police (SSP).
The state government adhered to the court's order and attached SSP Yashasvi Yadav with the DGP headquarters.
On Thursday, 24 medical students arrested for February 28 violence were released after they signed the bail bonds. They had been granted bail on March 3 but had refused to leave the prison demanding that all the charges against them be dropped unconditionally.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) office bearers received the students at the jail gate and returned to the medical college campus where the junior doctors still haven't rejoined work. They are demanding the arrest of Samajwadi Party MLA Irfan Solanki.
The junior doctors on Thursday morning created ruckus protesting the decision to call off the strike. The state government, however, cracked down on the senior doctors and issued more than one notice on different counts.
However the junior doctors on strike didn’t give up. Even King George’s Medical University administration’s attempt to run OPD services on Thursday (the fourth day of the strike) morning was hindered by the junior doctors.
University proctor Prof AA Mahdi and chief medical superintendent Dr SN Sankhwar got the OPD tickets made for at least 50 patients at around 9 am and managed to get them inside the OPD hall, where senior doctors were also called.
But as soon as the junior doctors came to know of this they joined in and stalled the process. Only 40 patients could be seen by the doctors after which the OPD was forcibly closed by the junior doctors, demanded action against SP MLA and senior police officer with whom the junior doctors of Kanpur’s GSVM medical college had a clash on Friday. The government has invoked ESMA and has asked the junior doctors on strike to return back to work but they say unless action is taken they wont return.
At least 22,000 patients have been affected by the strike while over 40 have reportedly lost lives due to lack of treatment across the state. Meanwhile a meeting of KGMU administration and junior doctors was called at 11.30 am at the administrative block to convince junior doctors to call off the strike.
The senior doctors, who feared backlash, worked till 12pm and examined 145 patients in different OPDs. On a normal day, about 5000 patients are examined at the LLR hospital alone. The pathology and radiology departments were also operational.
IMA president Arti Lalchandani was removed as the head of medicine department and asked to explain on three counts that she instigated the students and used the government medical college for IMA activities.
Chandani was spearheading the campaign, which the administration has on record billed as motivated.
Junior doctors in many parts of the state were observing a strike from March 1 after a scuffle with SP legislator Solanki led to a series of lathi charges, police raids on hostels and mass resignations by doctors across the state.