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Docs in MCI affiliation protest

Gangtok, Jan. 11: The ghost of “non-affiliation” has come back to haunt the students of the Sikkim Manipal medical college.

The MBBS students of Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences and the interns at Central Referral Hospital have called for an indefinite boycott programme from today to protest against the failure of Sikkim Manipal University to get the institute affiliated to Medical Council of India (MCI).

The interns attached to the referral hospital are the first batch of students of the Manipal institute.

The non-affiliation of the college to the MCI has rendered courses at the institute useless and had in the past led to several flare-ups between students and the university. Despite several visits by the MCI team and demands from the university, the medical council is yet to grant affiliation.

Now, with the final year examinations in March, students are worried that their degrees would be rendered worthless, if the MCI does not grant affiliation before that. “Our degrees will be of no value without the affiliation as we cannot be registered as medicos. Our future seems to be bleak,” a student said.

The students had camped in front of the vice-chancellor’s office at Fifth Mile, Tadong, 4 km from here, demanding that the head of the Manipal Group, Ramdas Pai, come and assure them that the issue would be sorted out.

“We want Dr Pai to hold discussions with us as nothing seems to be moving,” a final year student said.

K. Jayakumar, the vice-chancellor, said the university authorities have appealed to students to be considerate and said it was only a matter of time before affiliation came about. “We are keeping our options open and have requested the students for a dialogue and not act irresponsibly. But they are not willing to listen,” he said.

The university authorities also said the Union health ministry was already under pressure to decide on the affiliation issue fast. The vice-chancellor said a compliance report had already been sent in December.

Last year in July, Jayakumar had met the MCI authorities and officials of the Union health ministry in New Delhi over the affiliation issue. While requesting permanent affiliation, the vice-chancellor had also pressed for a provisional affiliation to be granted to the institute immediately. The MCI was reported to have responded positively to the request.

Jayakumar made it clear that a meeting could be arranged with Pai, but “only some 10 to 15 representatives would be allowed at the discussions”.

The students have also decided to call on Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling over the issue and have sought an appointment with him.

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