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Court prod amid despair

- RIMS director briefs students, joint secy in Delhi

Ranchi, Aug. 19: On the face of it, state health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh and a battery of senior bureaucrats and principals of three medical colleges facing seat slash are fighting hard to protect student careers. But, the real story may be different, bordering on hopelessness.

Petrified students, who refused to identify themselves, got a hint of that today when RIMS officiating director S.K. Choudhary asked them to “move court against Medical Council of India (MCI)” in the face of a “hopeless” situation.

Apparently, Choudhary, at a closed-door meeting at RIMS, Ranchi, admitted before the students that the state was unable to protect them.

Asked, Choudhary denied imparting such advice.

“I briefed them (students) about yesterday’s proceedings (in Delhi) as they are very anxious,” he claimed.

Coming just a day after Choudhary accompanied a high-level Jharkhand delegation led by state health minister Singh to a “positive” meeting on the issue with Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, the students’ disclosure, if true, is a shocking U-turn.

Yesterday, speaking to The Telegraph, state health minister Singh said the number of affected students was around 150. The minister even claimed his logical presentation of the case had impressed Harsh Vardhan to the extent that the Union minister promised to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Choudhary’s purported advice to students to take legal recourse belies Singh’s confidence.

Officially, as matters now stand, this August the Union ministry of health and family welfare backed MCI’s view that RIMS in Ranchi, PMCH in Dhanbad and MGM in Jamshedpur lacked facilities to do justice to 150, 100 and 100 MBBS seats, respectively.

Following the Centre’s endorsement, seats at the three colleges would be trimmed to 90 at RIMS and to 50 each at PMCH and MGM, if the state can’t persuade the Union health ministry otherwise.

With fewer seats, students with low ranks who cleared the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and gained admission to the three colleges after “counselling” would have to go.

State joint secretary (health) B.K. Mishra, still in New Delhi, said they made presentations before the MCI and Union health ministry officials to assure them that the council’s recommendations were being fulfilled at RIMS, PMCH and MGM.

“We put across our case strongly,” he said. On whether students were being suggested to go to court against the MCI, Mishra said: “Dekhte hain. Wahan aakar baat hogi (Let’s see. Will come there and speak).”

Tomorrow, students have planned a demonstration near Governor’s House on this issue.