Waiting on pavement, eating leftovers ends as Bengal doctors call off strike
Chirashri Bhattacharya's ordeal of having to constantly boost the morale of her ailing mother, with whom she spent six days on the pavement outside the NRS hospital waiting for treatment, ended on Monday.
Her ageing father, who accompanied his wife and Chirashri on the pavement, seemed a relieved man as the junior doctors' strike was called off following a meeting between the protesters and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"My mother Pragati Bhattacharya, 70, has a kidney problem. She needs immediate treatment and is unable to bear the pain and tremendous heat," Chirashri, a resident of Bolpur in Birbhum district, told IANS.
The young woman calmly fanned her mother and father who were resting on the ground. The 70-year-old woman, who was writhing in pain, insisted on returning home.
Relief was also writ large on the faces of many other terminally-ill patients, afflicted with diseases like cancer.
The patients' waiting rooms of NRS Medical College and Hospital - the epicentre of the protests - have been over-occupied since the cease-work started last Tuesday, forcing many of families to spend nights under the open sky despite occasional rains.
"The meeting of the doctors with the Chief Minister was the need of the hour," said Siddharata Das, senior doctor of the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital -popularly known as the NRS Hospital.
Established as the Sealdah Medical School by the British rulers on December 1, 1873, it was renamed the Campbell Medical School in 1884, and in 1894, became the Campbell Medical College. After Independence, the college was rechristened in 1950 as Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College in honour of the freedom fighter and one of the college's famous alumnus.
Situated very close to the bustling Sealdah station, the hospital caters to a large number of patients from the districts and neighbouring states daily.
One such family from Jharkhand was seen sharing some food during lunch and kept waiting for the cease-work to end.
"I am a cancer patient. On Tuesday, I was given an injection and after that everything here has been shut," Anwar Ali of Pakur district said, hours before the strike was withdrawn.
For Ali, the treatment was a ray of hope to move on in life. He is unable to work anymore and it is has become very difficult for the family to stay in Kolkata with their limited resources.
For the last few days, Ali, his wife and son at times managed to buy food. But mostly, they had been depending on the left-over food collected from hospital staff.
Being told that normalcy may be restored after Monday's meeting, Ali asked: "Did didi (Banerjee) visit the doctors?"
Finding out that the meeting was held at the state secretariat, he hoped for a positive outcome and early resumption of services.
One of the patient standing around the protesting doctor's 'dharna ground' told IANS that he was waiting to see the end result of the entire ruckus.
"Doctors cannot deny services to the patients. So I wanted to see how far this could go," said the patient, who did not want to be identified, while expressing his hope to receive treatment soon.
As the meeting ended cordially, the rest of the protesting doctors at the NRS cheered loudly.
"Our representatives had shared our demands with the Chief Minister and the entire meeting was very positive," Atanu Ganguly, an intern, said. IANS