The Chhattisgarh Staff nurses from the government hospitals had been on strike since 18 May. They were arrested under ESMA and allegedly detained under inhumane conditions for 36 hours in Raipur Central jail. The civil society groups here are planning to file a complaint in NHRC regarding the same. They had to end the strike and were released even without any concrete promises. The mitanins in the state too have been on strike for months and the negotiating process is being considered
The decision to go on strike and the demands
The staff nurses across government hospitals in Chhattisgarh under the banner of Chhattisgarh ParicharikaKarmachariKalyanSangh (CPKKS), an association of nurses had been on strike since 18 May 2018.
The six point demands had been pending for three years. This included giving the staff nurses the grade 2 category and seventh pay commission on Rs. 4600 pay grade. The union’s chairperson said that the government had not been paying attention to their demands for years which made them to go on an indefinite strike. Other demands included equal pay for equal work, increase in nursing allowance and other incentives, nursing quartersshould be close to the hospital, filling the shortfalls of nursing staff etc. The regional chairperson of CPKKS said to media that in other states staff nurses get the pay grade of Rs. 4600 while in Chhattisgarh they get the pay grade of Rs 2800. The strike meant that 3000 nurses across the state would be on strike which would affect hospital services.
The Director, Health Services (DHS)issued a notice saying that if during the strike period any death happens, then action will be taken against nurses and that the strike period would not be seen as leave but be considered as ‘break in service’.
The strike was supported by Congress, Aam Admi Party and other opposition parties. The Chhattisgarh wing of Indian Medical Association (IMA) also supported the strike and wore black bands on 24 May 2018 to support the strike. Later the Chhattisgarh third grade class workers union and the BSNL workers union also supported.
Newspapers reported that the Raipur medical college (along with other medical colleges) and district hospital were the most affected by the strike while the hospitals in other districts were not as affected as the nurses have not been participating in the strike. Hospitals were taking the help of interns in providing emergency services. Newspapers reported that the Nursing Council wrote a letter to Directorate Medical Education (DME) that in the case of nursing strike, it was not correct to take services from the interns for emergency services.
Arrests and the poor conditions of detention
On 29thMay 2018 Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1979 (ESMA) was invoked by the Chhattisgarh Home Department saying the strike was unconstitutional. The nurses refused to end the strike.The talks between the DHS and Nurses on 31 May 2018 union failed and FIR was lodged against the striking nurses in Azad Chowk Thana subsequently.
On 1 June 2018, Raipur Additional Superintendent of Police Vijay Agrawal told PTIthat as many as 607 nurses were arrested as they continued their strike even after the ESMA was invoked by the government. The nurses were sent to Raipur central jail, he said.
The police raided the hotels where the nurses were staying early in the morning or the while they were on their way to the dharna venue. The Principal Secretary GAD, Richa Sharma, told media that before the arrests they had tried six time to resolve the matter but failed.
227 nurses were put in jail. Rest of them continued undeterred demanding the release of their union leaders and slept at the jail campus, some with their children.They were kept in jail for 36 hours.
A CPKKS member when talking to media accused the government of suppressing a peaceful protest using the police. She said that “Some of the nurses who were arrested today are pregnant and yet they have not been released”.It was reported that nurses found a police officer making a video of them when they were using the toilet during detention. One of the nurses clicked the picture of the police staff making a video.
Another newspaper talked of the human rights violations of Nurses happened while in jail. The complaints were that since the arrest in the morning till the evening no food had been provided to the nurses. In the jail ten nurses went on a hunger strike. One of the nurse fainted in the jail. After being released the nurses complained that they were harassed inside the jail and women were not allowed to feed their children. The nurses protesting outside continued the protest despite the rains. In the jail, there was no arrangement of toilets. The husbands of the nurses protesting outside were also sent inside the jail.
The nurses accused that the jail was providing them with the same food meal both times in the mornings as well as in the evenings and the food was being thrown at them. They were told to drink the water that was being used in the toilets. Moreover,they reported that the jail guards misbehaved. They further accused that the jail authorities did not allow the nurses to breastfeed their young children.
It was later reported that the jail administration will make an inquiry into the alleged misbehaviour with the nurses in the jail.
Meanwhile it was reported that the Principal Secretary GAD had requested the nurses to come back on strike appealing that “serving the patients is good work”. She also said that the government has been considering the ‘rational’ demands of the nurses and has made a committee to look into the demands.DHSRanuSahu said that “the nurses will be released if they agree to come back on work”.
On 2nd June the nurses called off the strike. It was learnt that after talks with health secretary the union decided to call off strike. They were told that a committee will be formed to look into their demands. However, the CPKKS said that they had been mentally harassed to call off the strike and a lot of political pressure was put on them as a result of which they had to call off the strike without any of their demands being met.
Nurses ke hadtaal ke chhathvein din IMA ne kiya samarthan. 24 May 2018. Patrika.
Nurse aaj se hadtaal par, swaasthya sewaayein hongi prabhaavit. 18 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Narson kee Pradesh hadtaal aaj se. 18 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Nurses kee hadtaal paanchve din bhee jaari raha. 23 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Pradesh bhar mei narson kee bemiyaadi hadtaa laaj se.18 May 2018. Patrika.
Pehle din prashikshuon ke sahare chalu rahi emergency sewaayein, dharnasthal par narson ne dikhaayitaakat. 19 May 2018. Patrika.
Narsonkehartaal se swaasthyavyavasthabepatri. 19 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
36 ghante baad jab central jail se chhooti nurses toh apnon se lipat kar ro padhi. 3 June 2018. NaiDuniya
Prashikshuon se kaarya lene ko bataay agalat. 25 May 2018. Patrika.
Doctors ne kaali patti lagakar kee duty. 25 May 2018. Patrika.
Dharna stahl pahuchne se pehle narson kee giraftaari. 2 June 2018. NaiDuniya.
Nau sootreey maangon ko le kar dharna. 2 June 2018. Patrika.
Nurses giraftaar, jail ke baahar soyi. 2 June 2018. NaiDuniya.
ESMA ke tahat 883 nurses giraftaar, kendriya jail mei saikdon bhook hadtaal par. 2 June 2018. Patrika.
Nurses kee hadtaal avaidh, raajya sarkaar ne lagaaya ESMA. 30 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
ESMA ke baad bhi hadtaal par adig hai nurse, swaasthya vibhaag ne karvaayi FIR, aaj giraftaari. 1 June 2018. NaiDuniya.
ESMA ka nurses ke hadtaal par nahi hua koi asa. 31 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Hadtaali nurses par raajya sarkaar ne lagaaya ESMA. 30 May 2018. Patrika.
Doctors ne kiya nurses ke hadtaal kaa samarthan. 25 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Nurses ke hadtaal ka aasar, paanch dinon mei das operation bhi nahi. 23 May 2018. Patrika.
Khuli Jail kenaam par narson ko amaanveey sthiti meira khagaya. 2ndJune 2018. Navbharat.
Subah 6 baje ke injection ke baad nahi mili dawaayein. 20 May 2018. 2018. .
Hadtaal: Routine operation keetaareekhbadhi. 20 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Maangon ke liye narson wa mitaaninon ne dikhaay itaakat. 22 May 2018. Patrika
Lagataar chauthen din jaari rahi narses ke hadtaal. 22 May 2018. NaiDuniya.
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Chhattisgarh
(People’s Health Movement-India)