Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today appealed to the agitating resident doctors to return to duty as his government had accepted their demands.
Making a statement in the assembly, Fadnavis said that attacks on doctors were condemnable but the doctors had forgotten their (Hippocratic) oath to serve the sick.
“Enough is enough. Now, the government can’t sit quiet. We cannot leave patients to die. Despite accepting all the demands, the doctors are not ready to withdraw their strike. They are forcing us to take a harsh step,” he said.
"Because of the acts of a few irresponsible people of attacking doctors, it is not right to deny the poor their right to access to the medical facilities. I appeal to the doctors and their organisations to call off the strike and return to work," he added.
The Chief Minister once again assured that the government will ensure their security in hospitals.
"The state has enacted special laws to protect doctors. The quantum of punishment has been increased and attacks on doctors made a non-bailable offence," Fadnavis said.
"The laws need continuous upgradation and the government is open to discussion. We will try to see that attacks on doctors do not happen and if it happens the perpetrators will be punished severely," Fadnavis opined.
“I will along with Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan and public Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant will again request them to call off the strike immediately as the government has accepted all demands. Even after that, if they do not resume the duty, the state government will initiate legal action against them,” he said.
Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan too warned the resident doctors to withdraw their agitation and resume work or face stern action.
The issue came up in the State Legislative Assembly after the Question Hour when Pratap Sarnaik (Shiv Sena) highlighted the problems faced by patients due to the strike which entered the fifth day today.
Mahajan said that despite the High Court directive and appeal by CM Fadnavis, the doctors have not yielded.
"They have taken in writing from us that we are accepting their ten demands which include providing 1,100 security guards. These guards will be hired from private agencies run by former police officials at a salary of Rs 20,000 each. The government has sanctioned Rs 33 crore for the purpose," he said.
"The doctors tell us they are satisfied with our approach and then go out and tell that they will continue with their agitation. This is getting out of hand and the government is feeling helpless. We don't understand what we should do. The government once again appeals to the doctors to withdraw their strike and resume work, otherwise strict action will have to be taken," the minister added.
Yogesh Sagar of BJP said the government should give an ultimatum to doctors and cancel their registration and file cases against them if they fail to resume work in a day's time.
The demand was supported by other BJP and Sena members. Sagar said prior surgeries are being indefinitely postponed due to the strike and the patients are facing a harrowing time.
Sena and BJP members came into the Well of the House demanding that strict action be taken against striking doctors. Subsequently, Speaker Haribhau Bagde adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes.
After the House re-assembled, Speaker said the issue is about an organised sector holding the unorganised section of the society to ransom and the sentiment of the House is that the government should find a solution to this.
The Sena-BJP members again trooped into the Well forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for 30 minutes. The entire Opposition benches were empty since they are protesting the suspension of 19 Congress-NCP MLAs for disrupting the Budget presentation last week.
Nearly 4,000 resident doctors have stayed away from work since Monday, demanding enhanced security in the wake of a string of attacks on their colleagues by patients' relatives at government hospitals across the state.
With PTI Inputs