| Junior doctors and medical students at the rally. Picture by Diptendu Dutta
Siliguri, May 15: Nearly 400 medical students of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, including several belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes, took their agitation against the proposed quota system to public view when they held a huge rally in the Siliguri today.
About 150 junior doctors, comprising interns and housestaff, joined the protest, supporting the demands made by the students. The rally, which began after short speeches at Baghajatin Park around 12.15 pm, wound its way through Court More, Hill Cart Road, Sevoke More, Sevoke Road, Panitanki More, Bidhan Road and back.
Throughout the nearly two-hour march, they shouted slogans against Union human resources development minister Arjun Singh and the proposed hike in reservation of seats for the other backward classes (OBC) in postgraduate and other higher studies.
The students also protested against the inhuman manner in which the police in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore had taken action on agitating medical students. 'We are not animals. Why are our colleagues being treated like this' shouted the rallyists.
'We have been agitating since last Saturday,' said student leader Sapnadeep Sengupta. 'All students have gone on an indefinite boycott of classes from that day. We decided to take the agitation to the streets today so that more people could become aware of our protest against the Centre's move,' he said.
Sengupta, who is the secretary of the NBMCH students' union, said a memorandum has been submitted to NBMCH principal Sangeeta Bhattacharya today. 'We and the junior doctors have threatened to go on a cease-work if there is no change in the situation within 48 hours,' he added.
The memorandum urged Bhattacharya to put pressure on the state and Centre so that the proposed quota system was withdrawn.
The students will burn an effigy of Arjun Singh tomorrow.