Till the time of filing of this report on 12th November 2017, the strike of the government hospital doctors of Rajasthan was continuing. The state police has till now arrested more than hundred doctors. Some doctors have been dismissed. Doctors are being forced to break their strike. It may be noted that under the leadership of the All Rajasthan Employed Doctors Union, the doctors of the state government hospitals have continuously been agitating since August this year for their 33-point demands (See the box on the main demands of the doctors).
Main demands of Rajasthan doctors
Doctors throughout the country have condemned the imposition of RESMA (Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1970) on the Rajasthan doctors, their arrests and harrasment. Along with the All India Medical Students Association and Haryana Civil Medical Services Association, the Resident Doctors' Associations of various districts of Rajasthan, Rajasthan Medical College Teachers Association, State Pharmacy Employees Association, etc., have supported the struggle of the doctors.
In these three months the doctors have organised many different protest actions like dharnas, demonstrations, non-cooperation, black ribbon protests, pen down protests, boycott, silent protests, etc. They were on mass leave on 18th September. On 27th September they boycotted the VC of medical college. On 2nd October, all the doctors of the state boycotted meetings and reporting under the "babugiri band". On 9th October doctors boycotted the reporting of treatments. On 16th October there was a silent dharna in 33 districts of the state. On 29th October there was a huge demonstration in Jaipur as part of the non-cooperation agitation. On 4th November there was a meeting between the doctors' delegation and the government officials but no agreement could be reached. Finally, on 5th November nearly 10,000 doctors of the state submitted their collective resignation.
On 10th November, the government imposed RESMA to suppress the strike by the doctors. The government has been trying to instigate popular anger against the doctors by launching a campaign of false reports in the media. The government is inserting big advertisement in the newspapers against the doctors. Simultaneously, it is trying to split the unity of the doctors.
Doctors of the government hospitals have been agitating in support of their just demands since 2011. Time and again their strike are suppressed using state terror. There was an agreement between the Congress government and the doctors. However, after that no government has implemented the agreement, which has made doctors throughout the state very angry.
Everyone is aware of the terrible conditions of basic government healthcare and treatment facilities in the state. People have been continuously demanding filling of doctors and support staff's posts and for supply of medical equipment in the health centres. In proportion to the patients, the number of doctors is too little. Because of this, the doctors are forced to perform long hours of work. Without adequate support staff, doctors are burdened with paper work in addition to the work of treatment of patients. Besides, there is a dearth of housing with running water and electric supply in the hospital campuses. The salary of state doctors being much below the central government doctors, discrimination in promotions, uncertain future and threat of dismissal, etc. are some of the many problems facing the doctors of the state.
All the governments at the centre and the states, irrespective of the ruling party, have the same attitude – they wash their hands off providing government health facilities to the people and privatise the government health services. Government is trying to destroy the health centres so that it can justify their privatisation.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar condemns state terror used to suppress the just demands of the striking workers and demands that the arrested doctors are released immediately and their just demands be fulfilled. At the same time, the government must fulfil its responsibility of providing good quality healthcare and treatment facilities.