Sunday, March 22, 2009
IIT students turn vandals
IIT Kharagpur, which houses 9000 students & another 1000 odd faculty & administration staff in the 600 acre campus, has only one hospital catering to this huge population. Today the hospital was accused of death caused by negligence of a 3rd year student of electrical engineering, Rohit Kumar. Late night news reports suggest that around 2000 students initially gheraoed the Director, vandalised his residence & car and then finally forced him to fax his letter of resignation to the Board of Directors.
The BC Roy technology hospital is a 10 bed hospital having neither qualified doctors nor quality medical equipments to deal with moderate illness leave alone an emergency. The funny part is this has been the tradition for the last 4 decades. The students, faculty as well as administration know this and hence will never take an emergency patient to BC Roy hospital. I have witnessed this in person during my student days. Once I had dislocated three fingers on my right leg and was referred to the Railway Hospital in Kharagpur for a routine resetting procedure after spending 2 nights in the hospital doing nothing. Second time was more serious. A case of suspected hepatitis was treated by the doctors for 4 days with painkillers till I got scared enough to rush to Kolkata for diagnosis & treatment. There are numerous scary stories about the hospital and typically the faculty & the staff prefer to take their critical cases to the Kharagpur district hospital or move closer to Medinipur town or slightly further to Kolkata. Hence it is kind of strange that the fellow students failed to rush Rohit straight to Medinipur earlier. Probably his life could have been saved.
As for vandalism at the Director's residence, I am disturbed that the virus of mob violence has reached the precincts of this largely peaceful campus. Having said that, I must also say that the apathy of the IIT administration to students' demand for basic facilities ,during my time, was to be seen to be believed. At times of crisis, it was difficult to find any helping hand either from the administration or from the faculty and the students largely had to rely on their own network to deal with any crisis,be it a perennial water shortage or mess workers' strikes before the examination or taking a critically ill student to the hospital. The situation still remains the same.
But why did students have to resort to vandalism is going beyond me? And this is not because there is no cause for serious grievance but because the IIT students ,by and large, were not of those 'type.'
Sadly, Rohit Kumar's tragic death and the disturbance thereafter will change the perception of lots of people including myself about the changed character of the student population inside IIT Kharagpur.
Photo Source : Ambuj Saxena on Flckr