Join duty to avoid arrests, Saraf tells striking doctors in Rajasthan

The government imposed Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act 1970 and started arresting some doctors from December 15.

jaipur Updated: Dec 25, 2017 20:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association,ARISDA,RESMA
Patients and relatives queue up at SMS Hospital owing to the doctors’ strike in Jaipur. (HT Photo)

After the Rajasthan high court directed the state government on Monday to arrest the striking doctors, health minister Kali Charan Saraf asked them to join duty immediately, so that they won’t be arrested.

“If doctors continue with their strike, then they will be arrested and strict action will be taken,” Saraf said. “I don’t understand why these doctors are on strike, as government has accepted all their demands. As far as withdrawing the transfer order of 12 doctors is concerned, it is government’s right and will keep doing it.”

The in-service doctors, who went on strike on November 6, ended it on November 12 after the government held talks with them and accepted most of their demands. But irked by transfer of 12 of their colleagues on November 28, the doctors announced to go on mass leave from December 18.

The government imposed Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act 1970 and started arresting some doctors from December 15. The doctors then went on strike from December 16, paralysing health services in the state. Many doctors went underground.

Resident doctors of medical colleges also went on strike in support of in-service doctors. Medical college teachers also threatened to join the agitation if the government did not stop, what they called, “suppressive action against the doctors.”

The state chapter of the Indian Medical Association boycotted work on Monday for two hours -- from 9am to 11am. IMA state president Dr Mahesh Sharma said, “The government should accept the doctors’ demands, withdraw the transfer orders and lift RESMA.”

Director, public health, Dr VK Mathur called a meeting of the agitating doctors on Sunday, but doctors did not turn up for talks.

In a WhatsApp message, All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association (ARISDA) general secretary Dr Durga Shankar Saini said, “I tried to contract the director, public health, twice on Sunday and even sent a text message, but Dr Mathur did not respond.”

He said, “Talks have been held many times over the demands and the government is saying that all demands have been fulfilled, then why did the director, public health, call a meeting?”

He said Dr Mathur did not call the resident doctors to the meeting and the government did not lift RESMA.

“There are discrepancies in Dynamic Accelerated Career Promotion; a Rajasthan Administrative Service officer was appointed as additional director (gazetted). He was removed on December 20 after protests, but has been posted as additional director (administration and project). The RAS officer should be immediately removed from the directorate,” Saini said.

“Cancel transfer orders of 12 doctors, take back all legal and administrative cases against the agitating doctors; the mass leave should be adjusted as leaves or privilege leaves; run all government hospitals in one shift; government should not take revengeful action after doctors end strike,” Saini demanded.

First Published: Dec 25, 2017 20:21 IST