Anupriya, who refused to be admitted to a hospital after her condition deteriorated on Sunday evening, continues her hunger strike in front of Raj Bhavan. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Aug. 24: Jharkhand Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board today ordered re-counselling of fresh MBBS students on August 27, when the Centre’s seal on the Medical Council of India’s recommendation to slash 160 of the 350 seats across three medical colleges will culminate in scores of admitted pupils getting booted.
Finally dropping all pretence of working towards salvaging the medical seats, the state health department yesterday asked the board to schedule the date of the re-counselling. Acting fast, the board decided on August 27 for the day of the third phase of counselling, after the first on July 6 and 8 and the second on July 28. The board has also cancelled all the admissions taken by the students through first and second counselling held last month.
The Medical Council of India (MCI), which had expressed its dissatisfaction over manpower and infrastructure in RIMS (Ranchi, PMCH (Dhanbad) and MGM (Jamshedpur) from early this year, finally in July told the Centre that it did not think the colleges merited the 150, 100 and 100 seats.
By the time the state health department awoke from denial to approach the Centre and the MCI and make pragmatic promises to upgrade the three colleges to the council’s satisfaction, the Union ministry of health had already endorsed the seat slash.
Though state health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh as well as senior health bureaucrats and principals had gone to Delhi and met Union minister Harsh Vardhan, nothing fruitful happened.
After nail-biting suspense and hopelessness, today’s decision left many students who cleared the CBSE’s All India Pre-medical Test (AIPMT) but with low ranks, who were admitted to the three medical colleges or had been called for counselling, in danger of losing their seats.
This seems imminent now. And many students know it.
Since August 20, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ranchi, some 28 such students from across Jharkhand have been fasting before Governor’s House under a shamiyana.
The only attention they attracted was from the media and bystanders. No dignitary made any promise.
Health minister Singh persisted in optimism till even a couple of days ago but from afar, over telephone to journalists.
Even those rang hollow.
Today, when the state board announced the August 27 date for re-counselling, not a single bureaucrat or for that matter political party representative visited the students. State health minister’s phone remained out of reach throughout the day.
It was left for hapless students such as Aparajita to cry their heart out. “Ab kya karenge? Please bataiye na? Ab kya karenge? (What will we do now? Please tell what we will do now?”
Many of their friends were prostrate on roadside beds, too weak from the prolonged fast. Some sobbed. They were joined by their equally tearful parents.
Only roadside vendors and a section of the media tried to console them. Some vendors said they would pray to god for them.
Some students today also threatened to end their lives and were immediately scolded by parents.
Amool Ranjan, former director of RINPAS, said the incident must have given the students a serious mental shock. “They need their family, society and state to stand by them. They should be explained and counselled to re-shape their career goals.”
When asked, bureaucrats of the health department said they were “equally depressed”. Health joint secretary B.K. Mishra said: “Students are expecting us, but what will I say them at the dharna sthal, that I am helpless? I do not have the courage.”
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties expressed its solidarity with aspiring medical students and alleged that the state government’s lackadaisical approach was solely responsible for the reduction of seats in the medical colleges.
Had the state taken seriously Jharkhand High Court’s order passed in 2007 that all vacant posts of teachers at medical colleges should be filled up within three months, such a situation may not have arisen, it said.
RIMS doctors abuse scribe, photographer
Junior doctors of RIMS, Ranchi, manhandled reporter Chhandosree and photographer Prashant Mitra of The Telegraph on Sunday evening when the duo visited the Bariatu health institute to enquire how an MBBS student on hunger strike was doing.
Among the 28 students fasting before the Governor’s House since August 20 to draw attention to their possible loss of MBBS berths, Aakash was admitted to RIMS emergency after his health deteriorated.
When the reporter and photographer asked about Aakash’s health, infuriated doctors verbally abused and thrashed both.
A complaint has been lodged with Bariatu police station naming doctors Umesh Kumar, Jeetendra Kumar and three other junior medicos in charge of RIMS emergency around 4.40pm, accusing them of “ashleel shabdon ka prayog (verbal abuse) and maarpit (assault)”.
Chairperson of state commission for women Mahua Maji, who met The Telegraph team at Bariatu police station, said: “Manhandling and misbehaviour with a woman reporter is beyond imagination. The commission has taken up the matter very seriously.”
Indian Medical Association (Ranchi chapter) president J.K. Mitra said that the incident was beyond his imagination.
Bariatu OC Vinod Kumar promised to probe into the matter.