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Ghetto in medical hostel
- Quota students in AIIMS allege being driven into a corner

New Delhi, July 4: Parts of All India Institute of Medical Sciences hostels are turning into SC/ST ghettos. Reserved category students said they were being “hunted out of the remaining rooms” by upper-caste students and driven to two floors of the hostels.

An engraved message on the door of Room No. 49 (Hostel 1) bears testimony to their concern. The inscription, spiced with abusive language, asks the room’s occupant Umakant ' a scheduled caste student ' to “get out of this (hostel) wing”.

With almost half the reserved category students since seeking reallocation of their rooms, the message seems to have worked.

The top floors of Hostel No. 4 and 5 of the country’s premier medical school have 32 rooms in all, of which 27 are occupied by SC/ST students. Of the 250 students at the institute, 55 are SC/ST.

Hostel records show that 22 of the students currently in the “ghetto” moved there only in the wake of the surcharged atmosphere of the anti-reservation agitation that started with the human resource development ministry unveiling plans for a quota for the Other Backward Classes.

“Many more want to shift there but cannot because there aren’t enough rooms for everyone,” said a student.

AIIMS authorities said they would take “necessary action”.

Sub-dean Dr Sunil Chumber said he had himself faced discrimination during his college years. “My room was broken into, and things destroyed, because I came from a reserved category,” he said.

The SC/ST students said they were scared of the consequences of their identities becoming known for speaking out against discrimination.

A senior resident doctor, who belongs to the scheduled castes, said: “We are so scared here because the director (P. Venugopal) himself is supporting them (the anti-quota agitators). We have nowhere to go to complain.”

Resident Doctors’ Association president Dr Vinod Patro, however, said there was “no discrimination on the AIIMS campus”. “It is a figment of their imagination,” Patro, who has been leading the anti-reservation agitation at AIIMS, said.

Some SC/ST students alleged that to keep them from revealing the discrimination, they were often “failed in examinations”, which acted as a threat.

“Every year on an average five of the 11 reserved category students are held back,” a resident doctor said, citing his own case, where he was one of those failed in the first year.

AIIMS rules say a student who fails twice over the five years of study cannot pursue his or her post-graduation.

The students said that for fear of their careers being destroyed they did not want to “get into the bad books of the authorities”.

“The students have no choice but to bear this humiliation quietly and pass out in five years,” said Dr Vikas Bajpai of the Medicos’ Forum for Equal Opportunity, a pro-reservation group.

A meeting of the apex decision-making body of AIIMS is scheduled tomorrow in which the ouster of Venugopal could figure. Union health minister Anmbumani Ramadoss, who wants him to go, will come face to face with the director for the first time since the stand-off over the anti-quota agitation.

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