Ranchi, June 4: Sending out a signal that it meant business, the state government acted on its ultimatum and began sacking striking contractual doctors who had not reported for duty today.
Till reports last came in, the health ministry had sacked 129 contractual doctors from Ranchi district alone.
Health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi, who stayed back at his office till late evening accompanied by senior officials, said: The civil surgeon was issuing dismissal letters. Lists of other districts would follow. On Monday, the state government had issued an ultimatum to over 600 striking contractual doctors asking them to join work by Wednesday or face dismissal. Till yesterday, various associations representing the doctors had said they would not heed the governments threat.
But by this evening, things looked different. By 9pm, 250 contract doctors had joined work according to reports sent by civil surgeons across the state, said Sahi.
Within an hour, the number of those returning to work swelled from 167 to 250.
Sahi also ordered all the civil surgeons to terminate job of those doctors who did not report by Wednesday midnight.
The health minister said the final number of sacked doctors would go up as health officials had been instructed to stay back at their office in Nepal House till midnight to collect reports being sent by the civil surgeons.
But the agitating contractual doctors claimed they were firm about a fight to the finish despite the state government's claim that one third of them had joined duty.
Health secretary S.P. Sinha said technically the government had to merely terminate the contract signed by these doctors to dismiss them.
Around 600 contract doctors have been on mass leave since the midnight May 25 to press for regularisation of their services.
In view of the governments latest move, the IMA has convened a general body meeting of all contractual doctors in Ranchi on June 6 at its headquarters. On June 6, we shall decide the future course of action, said IMA state secretary R.C. Jha.
He, however, dismissed the state governments claims as an effort to spread confusion among agitating doctors to foil their agitation.
Union minister of state for food processing industries Subodh Kant Sahay came out in support of the striking doctors and blamed a corrupt state government for its callous attitude towards poor patients in rural areas who, he said, were suffering for want of proper medical facilities.