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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Black Sunday at IIT Kharagpur

(With so much happening on campus for the past few days... I haven't had time to post here. Check this campus mag here, that I work for.....and once you are done reading this, you can check it out for the latest updates on this issue.)

Kharagpur readers.... you are not strangers to this. For others: On Sunday, the 23rd of March, a 3rd year student of IIT Kharagpur, Rohit Kumar died while on his way to the hospital in Midnapore, the district headquarters. He had sustained a head injury after falling off a rickshaw... but due to the callousness and negligence of the authorities at B.C. Roy Hospital on campus... was not treated properly. There was a 90-minute delay in issuing an ambulance.... there was no trained paramedic with him..... the horrorshow goes on and on.....

The students here had been angry about the pathetic medical facilities here for some time now.... (25 beds for over 7000 students, no MRI, no CAT scan...not even a 24-hour pharmacy) a few months back, about a thousand people attended an Open House meeting to demand the revamp of the hospital. Promises were made..... and forgotten.

This time, the students had had enough.

In a now-famous move, thousands of students gathered near the gate of the director's house and demanded that he come out and talk. After some aggresive and arrogant posturing by the guards and later, the Director, Dr.Damodar Acharya himself, the students decided to take matters into their own hands. They started to smash the window-panes of the bungalow. Bricks, stones, tree-branches.... whatever they could lay their hands on. Pretty soon, they were inside his drawing-room, which was soon to be a sorry mess of broken glass shards.

His car went next.... as it was upturned, and everything which could've been smashed in it was smashed with gusto.

Finally the Director was forced to come out of hiding.... faced with thousands of angry, indignant students, he immediately announced he was stepping down. Later on in the night, there was another massive Open House meeting, one which saw an unprecedented number of people.... The Dean of Student Affairs also resigned in this meeting, on principle of course.... (the principle being "Save Thy Neck" .... when he roared on mike " Behave yourself!" and "Kya problem hai! Iddhar aa kar bataao(translated: What's your problem,eh? Come here and tell me!); hundreds of sudents immediately obliged him by climbing on stage and literally breathing down his neck.)

The vandalism was unfortunate...but the anger and the outrage were genuine and justified in every way. Let's hope that nobody else has to lose his life for want of better medical facilities on campus.

May Rohit's soul rest in peace.

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