The Bihar health service doctors on Monday decided to boycott work across the state on August 18 and 19, and follow it up with an indefinite strike if the government does not take action against the officials who allegedly misbehaved with them during a training programme recently.
“The doctors belonging to the Bihar health service will boycott work across the state on August 18 and 19 to protest misbehaviour with them at a training programme in Gaya conducted by the Bihar Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (BIPARD) on July 31. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) supports them and their demands,” IMA Bihar action committee convenor Ajay Kumar told The Telegraph.
Kumar added that the government doctors who are members of the Bihar Health Service Association (BHSA) have called a general meeting on August 20 to decide about going on an indefinite strike if their demands are not met. “Though the IMA supports them, it also wants the government to initiate talks and take remedial measures to avert the boycott and strike,” Kumar added.
These health service doctors man the government hospitals from the block level to medical colleges and hospitals in the state. There are over 6,000 such doctors in Bihar. A batch of these doctors had gone to Gaya for a training programme in public health administration conducted by the BIPARD on July 31.
The doctors alleged that single beds in single rooms were given to two doctors each as accommodation. They found insects in the meals served to them and rats running on utensils.
“The BIPARD officials, who were there to oversee the training, used abusive language when we protested about the basic amenities, made us feel low and unwanted, and asked the security personnel to throw us out. Altogether 12 of us were kicked out of the training programme,” a doctor told this newspaper on the condition of anonymity.
BIPARD director general K.K. Pathak, who is also the additional chief secretary of the education department, followed it up with a letter to the state health department to suspend the concerned doctors and recommended departmental proceedings against them.
The issue snowballed after it reached the BHSA and IMA Bihar branch. They gave an ultimatum to the state till August 6 to take action on the issue and also consider their other demands pertaining to better service conditions. However, the government did not invite them for talks.
Pathak did not take a call from this newspaper. But, BIPARD senior assistant director Arya Gautam rejected the charges. “We provide double occupancy accommodation at our training centre in Gaya but the doctors wanted single occupancy. It was against the rules and we could not oblige them. The doctors created a ruckus for three to four hours on July 31. We sent back 12 doctors who were instigating others,” Gautam said.