BIT-Mesra students on Monday continue their placard and slogan campaign against the death of fellow student M Arun Kumar on campus. (Hardeep Singh)
The chief medical officer (CMO) and a doctor of BIT-Mesra dispensary, and the deemed university’s transport head were suspended on Monday in connection with the death of a 23-year-old engineering student two days ago.
The registrar too stepped down from his post in the afternoon, following sustained protests by students who demanded his resignation on moral grounds.
Third-year production student M. Arun Kumar, a Chennai resident and inmate of Hostel No. 13, died barely an hour after walking into the cradle’s dispensary with uneasiness on Saturday, sparking allegations of gross medical negligence.
While CMO A.P. Singh had overseen his brief treatment, Dr Chitra Pathak had reportedly administered the injection after which Arun collapsed and was later declared brought dead at Apollo Hospital, Ranchi.
BIT sources said transport head Manu Mahto faced the heat because he failed to arrange for an ambulance to ferry the ill student to hospital in time, leaving him to the mercy of what is claimed to be an ill-equipped dispensary on campus. The trio have been removed from duty without pay till further notice.
Registrar D. Sasmal, on the other hand, was responsible for conducting regular inspection of the dispensary. After Arun’s death, he had denied lack of proper medical care at the dispensary.
On Monday, Sasmal said he had resigned to honour his promise made to students in the morning. “Two medical officials have been suspended. I have also done my part by quitting. It (the death) was an unfortunate incident. Being the registrar, I am caught up in myriad matters and not just dispensary functioning. I am not trying to defend myself saying this. I did what I could do best,” he said.
BIT-Mesra vice chancellor Ajoy Chakraborty confirmed the suspensions and resignation, but refused to elaborate on the developments. “I am on medicine. I have a heart problem,” he said.
A senior official of the deemed university was, however, more candid.
“The management has agreed to set up two separate expert committees, which will include student representatives, to probe into the negligence charge, check credentials of dispensary staff and, if necessary, recommend measures to revamp what students have called a below par dispensary,” he said.
Classes, meanwhile, remained suspended since morning as student unrest continued on campus.
“It took time, but there have been positive developments (suspensions and resignation) this afternoon. The vice chancellor has agreed to most of our demands. We are just waiting for written confirmation after which we will end our agitation,” a student said, requesting anonymity.
The BIT dispensary, which is claimed to be inadequately equipped to cater to the needs of over 4,000 students, has two doctors on paper, both of who have been suspended. A third practitioner, whose name could not be ascertained, is in charge of the BIT Rural Dispensary, 2km from the Mesra campus and near the BIT Polytechnic premises.
Students reiterated that the main dispensary lacked basic facilities and flawed treatment was a norm. “The matter came to light only because a student died. Else, the outside world would have never known about gross mismanagement here,” said an architecture student.
Recalling an incident, he said that a month ago, he had visited the dispensary after a minor accident on the playground.
“I had bruises on my knees and hand, and was bleeding. A compounder, who attended to me, first gave me a paracetamol and then proceeded to administer an injection. Imagine my horror when, after pushing the needle half way through, he went to the doctor to confirm whether it was the right injection,” he said.
Another student summed up the sorry state of affairs. “No matter what problem you have, all you get here (BIT dispensary) is paracetamol tablets or anti-allergens. Most of the time, doctors aren’t present and three compounders, who have limited medical knowledge, run the dispensary,” he said.