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Medical berth in bag, trio hunts for money

Krishnagar/Behrampore, June 26: They have a wealth of marks in their pockets, but that is not enough to make their dreams come true.

Aurangzeb from Murshidabad and Bakul Sheikh and Unnati Roy from Nadia ' all children of daily labourers ' did well in the higher secondary examinations last year and cleared this year's Joint Entrance Examinations (medical). But their families, struggling to make ends meet, don't know how they will fund their children's future.

The four-and-half-year MBBS course in Bengal costs about Rs 2,200 a month, including tuition fees and hostel charges. Besides, there are costly books to buy. The three are now depending on their teachers and well-wishers to raise money.

Aurangzeb, who lives in Murshidabad's Jalangi, 260 km from Calcutta, used to study by candlelight ' his house does not have electricity ' and without the help of a private tutor. Yet, he scored 867 in HS last year. But he could not afford to sit for the JEE then.

The Telegraph had reported the boy's achievement on June 13 last year, which caught the eye of Al Amin Mission and it came to his aid. It arranged free accommodation for Aurangzeb at its coaching centre in Howrah and helped him appear for the medical exam this year. Aurangzeb ranked 100th.

But now his father Sheikh Nahiruddin is at his wits' end. 'How can I gather so much money for Aurangzeb' My elder son and I together earn about Rs 1,500 a month,' he said.

Aurangzeb has 'borrowed some money' to attend the counselling session in Calcutta that began today. 'Last year, I could not pick up a JEE form because I did not have the money'. But now that I have qualified, I don't know how I will continue my studies as I don't have the means,' he said.

In Nadia's Bamunpukur, about 100 km from Calcutta, 19-year-old Bakul had gone back to work in a paddy field like his father after he scored 849 in last year's HS exams but could not crack the JEE.

But he did not let go of his dreams. Bakul, whose younger sister Sahira is a Class IX student and elder brother, Maqbool Alam a carpenter, sat for JEE again this year and ranked 641st in medical.

'I can neither leave this opportunity nor take it. Who will provide me the money' Who will assist my brother to run my family' he asked.

Bakul's teachers, at the behest of headmaster Monorujjaman Biswas, have started a fund collection drive. 'We are confident of raising a few thousand rupees for his admission. But, we don't know how Bakul will continue to fund his education for four-and-a-half years,' a teacher said.

About 40 km away at Bhaina village in Hanskhali, Unnati faces the same dilemma. Last year, she got 768 in HS from Bagula High School. Like Aurangzeb, she, too, did not pick up a JEE form as her father Shyamal could not afford it.

This year, she ranked 182nd on the merit list for seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste.

While Shyamal is a daily labourer, Unnati's mother Kamana binds bidis and elder sister Bharati, 25, works as private attendant in a local health centre. The family earns about Rs 1,000 a month.

'I did not take admission to a college as I knew it would not fetch me a job immediately. So I started helping my mother in binding bidis. But, I studied every night for a couple of hours. It was my headmaster who inspired me to sit for the JEE and arranged for the form,' Unnati said.

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