Beeline outside a few shops as 50,000 chemists pull down shutters

About 50,000 chemists and druggists met at Rani Rashmoni Square on Monday, leaving most of the medicine shops across the city with shutters down, inconveniencing a lot of people. A beeline was noticed at a few shops that were kept open. Staff members of the five medicine shops which were open in front SSKM, four around Chittanranjan Hospital and a similar number in the vicinity of NRS, had a tough time dealing with the deluge of customers.

"Two shops in every locality were kept open and a few more around government hospitals. Other than these, all shops were closed today," said Ramen Ray, president, Bengal Chemists and Druggists' Association (BCDA).

Members of BCDA put up the demonstration demanding withdrawal of taxes on medicines, reduction of MRP of medicines, finding a solution to deal with the shortage of pharmacists and to give the right to free medicines to the needy, which they thought was being hampered by putting up of fair price shops inside government hospitals. They submitted a charter of demands to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday in this regard. While critics said this agitation of BCDA as a defence tactic against the fair price medicine shops, members of BCDA said they were not against fair price shops. "Fair price shops are always welcome but we want people to get their rights which the government was depriving them of. We also demand a short term course for chemists," said Tushar Chakraborty, state secretary, BCDA.

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