Kolkata: Medical Students of the Calcutta Medical College who had been demonstrating for 80 long hours for their demand for a hostel for the senior students (2nd to the 5th year), reached a climax, on Friday, when their meeting with the Principal, Uchhal Bhadra, fizzled out without any constructive decision having been taken. The students then decided to gherao the principal by sprawling in the corridor outside to block the Principal’s way and stop him from leaving for home.
Anger erupted, as despite, a two-week long protest, the principal had housed first-year students in the newly built hostel block. The principal to protect himself, asked Officers of Bowbazar police station to come over for his evacuation.
The officials who came to assist the Principal are alleged to have attacked the MBBS students in the corridor while escorting the principal to safety at around 11 pm in the night.
Students alleged to India today that police, along with “drunk goondas posing as cops”, assaulted them for conducting a “peaceful protest”.
Speaking to an India blooms about the scuffle between the police and the students one of the students said, “At night, suddenly police and a large number of ‘unknown’ outsiders intervened in our peaceful protest and when they were taking our principal and other officials out of the office, cops assaulted and manhandled us. Besides knocking us down, they slapped us, kicked us and punched us.”
“Few girl students, who had joined our demonstration, were also manhandled badly. At least 10 protesters were injured during the scuffle out of which two were hurt very seriously,” he added.
Denying all allegations of manhandling against them, a senior official of Kolkata Police said: “We went to the scene as the Principal of Calcutta Medical College asked us to take him out of his office as he had been gheraoed by few of his students.”
“The old hostel where senior students stay does not have sufficient space for all of us. Plus, there have been multiple accidents there,” a final-year MBBS student at the medical college revealed when talking about reasons for the protest.
The students at the same time admitted that Ist year students according to as per ragging rules are to be kept away from senior residences. They, however, insisted that seats should have been given away keeping seniority status in mind. This they felt should have been followed by keeping in mind the distance of the student’s residence from the college.
The students who have been protesting for 3 days now have been living in the general common room with their belongings.
The principal giving his version of the entire episode said that by housing the 1st years in the new 11 story building, he was merely following the MCI norms. He said he only called the cops after the students disallowed him to pass.
“The Medical Council of India rules specify that first-year students must be provided with separate accommodation and no senior student would be allowed there. This is part of the anti-ragging measures taken by the council,” Principal, Uchhal Bhadra told the Telegraph.
He said he had promised the senior students protesting that he would look into their problems once the admission process was over. “But they refused to listen,” he added on Thursday night.
The principal admitted to having been allowed to move in and out of his office by the students during the day. It was at around 7 PM when he was disallowed to leave for home that he called the police.”I called the police and they rescued me,” Bhadra said.
“I cannot go against the medical council directives. So, it’s not possible to allow the senior students in the same hostel with the first-year students.” the principal reiterated.
The students also blamed Dr Partha Pratim Mondal, who has been appointed as the new hostel’s superintendent, for having called the police to disrupt the ongoing protest and attack students.
Criticising the superintendent’s appointment, a final year student said that “Rules state that only a professor can be made a hostel superintendent, which Dr Mondal is not.”
A list of demands by the protesting students was also submitted to the principal at their meeting with him, earlier. The demands include:
- Accommodation for students of second to the fifth-year is thrown open and made transparent through the hostel counselling process that includes the New Boys’ Hostel.
- Refusal to accept an under-qualified TMC and part-time doctor as the superintendent of the new boy’s hostel