Students protest near chief minister Hemant Soren’s residence in Ranchi on Monday. Telegraph picture
Ranchi, Aug. 11: Hundreds of tearful students who had cleared All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) 2014 conducted by CBSE thronged the capital today, jolting a state that was largely in denial over the Medical Council of India (MCI) seat-slash threat.
Students who now stand to lose MBBS berths after the Centre endorsed MCI recommendations to trim seats from all three state-run medical colleges, pleaded with chief minister Hemant Soren, former chief minister Arjun Munda and officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty to save their careers.
Today’s most shocking revelation was that MGM in Jamshedpur had also been asked to slash 50 of its 100 seats. It is, therefore, in the same boat as RIMS in Ranchi and PMCH in Dhanbad.
The state health department, which had stayed in denial till the Centre categorically backed the council’s recommendations, had kept this development under wraps.
On July 26, MCI told the Centre, with copies to state health department and respective colleges, that 60 of 150 seats from RIMS (Ranchi) and 50 of 100 seats from PMCH (Dhanbad) should be slashed due to manpower and infrastructure constraints.
It had voiced its displeasure against MGM (Jamshedpur) on that score but not directed a seat slash at that point. Back then, RIMS and PMCH, which had already admitted 101 and 72 students, 11 and 22 more than what the council approved, were in the eye of the storm.
Now, with students at the dharna tearfully saying they were denied admission in MGM also, the principal of the medical college A.N. Mishra said they had received a letter from MCI “either on August 6 or 7”, which suggested seats be slashed from 100 to 50 as well.
To evade responsibility, A.N. Mishra added: “Our admission started on August 2. From the onset, we had admitted only 50 students and refused admission to others.”
In Ranchi, tearful and angry students, some accompanied by parents, sat on dharna on Kanke Road near Hemant’s residence from 11 am.
They were finally successful in speaking with Hemant at Project Building around 6pm.
They also met Munda, asking him to plead their case with Union health minister Harsh Vardhan at the Centre.
Both Hemant and Munda have agreed but the outcome is uncertain.
Students and their parents were in panic. Piu Sahu, who was part of the protest on Kanke Road, was sobbing uncontrollably. Since she couldn’t speak, her mother Anita took over.
“Piu cleared the AIPMT, was allotted a medical seat in MGM but refused admission. We just do not know what to do. How can the state play with the careers of its own children?” she asked.
A distraught father R. Hoda said: “My son Minahjhul has been denied admission at PMCH in Dhanbad. The state has to do something. Children put their heart and soul in clearing the AIPMT and now they are left with no seats. Is that fair?”
Ranchi resident Anupriya shouted: “I do not want to hear anything, I want to study medical, I have cleared the medical entrance and now state should arrange a seat for me.”
Anupriya is among the few students who took admission to PMCH in Dhanbad on July 15 through the first counselling conducted by Jharkhand Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board on July 6 in Ranchi.
“Then, I was called for a second counselling on July 28 and my admission upgraded to MGM in Jamshedpur. I was very happy. I took a college-leaving certificate from PMCH and went to MGM. There, I was shown the door. What next?”
All this while, Anupriya was speaking confidently. Then, she broke down. “Hum to kahin ke nahin rahe (I am a complete goner now),” she wept near the chief minister’s house.
Officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty was sympathetic.
“I really feel sorry for the students who were refused admission. They told me that Bihar medical institutes were taking admission at their own risk. They said Bihar medical colleges had also not been allowed to continue with increased seats, but the government there has decided to take admissions, upgrade institutes according to MCI guidelines and report back to the council. I will speak to the health secretary in Bihar and find out the details,” he promised.
Chakraborty being the sole exception, bureaucrats spouting gloom-and-doom quotes were abound.
Officiating director of RIMS S.K. Choudhary said: “I can’t comment. I really feel bad about students but nothing is in my hand.”
Joint secretary (health) B.K. Mishra chipped in. “What shall I say? We will ask Jharkhand Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board for re-counselling after which students would be re-distributed on the basis of rank.”
PMCH principal P.K. Senger said: “Out of the list of 72 students sent to us after first counselling, some were upgraded to MGM in Jamshedpur. I don’t know what happened at MGM. We have 58 students at present, eight more than the MCI recommendation of 50.”
With inputs from Vijay Deo Jha in Ranchi, Animesh Bisoee in Jamshedpur and Praduman Choubey in Dhanbad