Doctors across India on Monday went on strike to protest against the lack of security after a mob attacked healthcare professionals at a hospital in the eastern city of Kolkata last week.
The nationwide strike was called by the Indian Medical Association, one the premier unions representing over 800,000 doctors and medical students in the country.
"While we are always serving you day and night, without food and sleep, without thinking about ourselves, you tell us how can we serve you if we are not safe," Rajiv Ranjan of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), among the premier government-run hospitals in New Delhi, told reporters.
Doctors at the hospital announced that throughout Monday only emergency and other essential services would be functional, like in the case of all hospitals in the country, in a show of solidarity with their colleagues in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.
The incident of violence on doctors occurred a week ago when a family blamed healthcare professionals at the Kolkata hospital for the death of a nearly 90-year-old patient.
The medical institution, however, claimed that the doctors attending to the patient had done everything possible to save his life.
The doctors at AIIMS were not looking to participate in the strike. However, they decided to join after an attack on one of their colleagues on Sunday night.
“A junior resident was assaulted for performing his rightful duty of giving preferential care to a critical patient,” read a statement by the Resident Doctor's Association at AIIMS.
Meanwhile, doctors in West Bengal continued on Monday their indefinite strike that began last week.
In the southern state of Telangana, elective surgeries and outpatient services were shut and several doctors sported black badges. A similar situation played out in the states of Kerala (south), Haryana (north) and Madhya Pradesh (center).
Souradipta Chandra, who practiced medicine in Kolkata before moving to New Delhi, told EFE that he had been attacked on several occasions in the Bengal capital.
"I myself have suffered this situation multiple times. There have been times at night, while on duty alone, there have been mobs coming and there is no protection. You literally you have to run for your life," said Chandra, who, along with his colleagues at a private New Delhi hospital where he works, has joined the strike.
"How can 200 people in a truck enter a hospital, beat up a doctor and leave? And there is no protection, where are the police," asked the doctor, referring to last week's case in Kolkata.
India’s healthcare system is one of the most poorly managed in the world. There is a shortage of doctors in the country with some 1.3 billion people, where only a little over one percent of the GDP is allocated for healthcare.