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CIMA Gallary

Panic attack after stale food cry at IIT

New Delhi, Sept. 26: A student of IIT Kharagpur had to be hospitalised and treated for symptoms of “panic disorder” after being apparently threatened by employees of a private-run hostel canteen for complaining that stale chicken was being cooked.

The first-year student was discharged from BC Roy Hospital on the IIT campus today after three days, institute sources and hostel inmates said.

The tech school’s officiating registrar, T.K. Ghosal, however, claimed exam pressure might have made the student “panicky”.

Fellow students said the boy, an inmate of the IIT’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Hostel, had on Saturday complained that rotten chicken was being cooked in the canteen, managed by a private contractor. After hostel warden Partha Saha intervened, the matter was settled that evening and the chicken thrown away.

However, the mess staff called the boy to the canteen the next morning and allegedly threatened him with “dire consequences”. According to the hostel inmates, the student returned to his room crying. His friends said he kept repeating that the “mess staff will kill me and the administration will suspend me”.

They took him to the hospital, where he was treated for symptoms of “panic disorder”, a condition in which a patient has repeated attacks of intense fear.

“I cannot say whether it was a panic attack,” warden Saha said. “But the boy was very emotional. He became more emotional that day.”

The student has no history of physical or mental illness, which is evident from his medical record book. At the time of admission, students have to submit a medical certificate and test reports about their health. The institute provides each student the medical record book, which is required for admitting them to the campus hospital.

Registrar Ghosal said the student’s illness had “nothing to do” with the canteen incident. “He might have become panicky under pressure of study and examination.”

An institute source said canteens in three of the 20 hostels had been outsourced to private contractors and there have been complaints of poor quality of food being served. Ghosal refused to comment on the management of the canteens.