The state government’s confusing signals on the sale of seats in medical colleges this year have cast a shadow over the counselling sessions that started on Monday. Police resorted to a lathicharge at the counselling centre at Ashutosh Centenary Hall, at the Indian Museum, to rein in would-be medical students, their guardians and students protesting capitation-fee berths in medical colleges.
Trouble started after the guardians questioned the authorities’ refusal to counsel all the 175-odd students who were called for the procedure on Monday (a day reserved for handicapped students and those of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes).
Instead of 175 students, officials called in only about 125 Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) passouts, to “counsel” them and guide them into the proper medical college, in accordance with their JEE rank.
Aggrieved students and their guardians asked why they had been called for the counselling when the government had already made up its mind to decrease the number of merit-only seats in the city-based colleges. “They are trying to keep seats empty in the city colleges and guiding us to medical colleges in Bankura or Burdwan, despite the ranks we have bagged in JEE,” alleged Mridul Saha. “Why this tamasha if they have already decided not to let us study in city colleges'” he asked.
A group of doctors and medical students, belonging to the Medical Service Centre (MSC), joined the agitating parents and their wards. “We want the government to come clean on whether the money-only seats are going to be reserved at the cost of the merit-only seats,” MSC spokesperson Mridul Sarkar said.
“We have not taken a final decision yet,” director of medical education Chittaranjan Maiti said later on Monday. “Things are going to be more organised, with more security, on Tuesday,” he promised.