The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Suicide bid for dental degree

Patna, Oct. 7: Two dental college students tried to commit suicide late last night after their negotiations with the Bihar government failed to break the deadlock over recognition for their institute.

Saurav Kumar and Gautam Kumar, students of the Mithila Minority Dental College in Darbhanga, were admitted to Patna Medical College after they consumed a “high dose of sleeping pills”.

Saurav, who was from Ranchi, had enrolled in 1997 but has appeared in only one semester examination so far. Gautam, who was from Purnia, had taken admission in 1999, but has not appeared in any test.

Students of the college have been trying to draw the state government’s attention to their plight. They have met both Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav and his chief minister wife Rabri Devi, seeking their intervention. About 100 students even polished boots and cleaned cars on streets of Patna to collect funds for launching a movement.

The dental college, along with two other colleges, has run into a protracted battle with the Mithila University and the state government over recognition. State sources say these colleges are not recognised because they did not get a no-objection certificate from the state government that has been made mandatory since 1993.

College authorities say the certificate is not necessary as the institute was set up before 1993. The battle is now in court. In one case, one of the dental colleges told the court the university was demanding money to hold examinations. The students are caught in this crossfire.

But with their patience running out, the students are now on the warpath and demanding a “permanent solution to this problem”. They say the suicide bids have highlighted their plight and have threatened that if the impasse still continues, five students would end their lives tonight.

“There is no point living if a student has to struggle for 13 years to get a degree. There are candidates among the 600 students of the college who have failed to get a degree even after wasting 13 years in this college,” said Saurav from hospital.

Zafar Iqbal is one of them. “We have pumped in at least Rs 2 to 4 lakh each for studying in the college and getting a degree. Instead, we are caught in the waiting game because of the fight between the college authorities and the university,” Iqbal, who is from Jammu and Kashmir, said. “The conflict has been continuing for at least half a decade with no sign of an effort on the part of the state government to resolve it.”

Health education minister Shakil Ahmed says the state government has no role to play although his ministry is sympathetic to the students.

Ahmed says the university, which has de-recognised the college, is an autonomous body and so is the Dental Council, which frames the rules.

According to him, the provision of getting a no-objection certificate from the state government was made by the Dental Council of India, an apex body to monitor functioning of dental colleges. “There are irregularities against these dental colleges like collection of capitation fees which are being probed. The best way to solve the issue is to approach Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha,” he said.

But Sinha had refused to see the students when they went to meet him. One student even alleged he was lathi-charged.

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