“For resorting to caste-based discrimination and neglecting the duties assigned to them”

Civil society groups, including medical students, protested here on Friday against caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions, demanding suspension of the present and former Principals of Vardhman Mahavir Medical College who were found to be involved in discriminating against reserved category students.

The Prof. B.L. Mungekar Committee which was appointed by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to look into the allegations of caste-based discrimination indicted the administration of Vardhman Mahavir Medical College for “resorting to caste-based discrimination and neglecting the duties assigned to them, not by omission, but by commissions”.

The Mungekar Committee, which submitted its report to NCSC in September this year, recommended suspension of four persons including Dr. Jayashree Bhattachrjee and Dr. V. K. Sharma, present and former principals of the medical college respectively. The Committee also asked the Commission to initiate legal action against them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Other college officials named by the Committee included Dr. Shobha Das, Head of the Department of Physiology, and Dr. Raj Kapoor, Professor of Physiology and Liaison Officer.

Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh, president of Progressive Medicos Forum, said there have been enough of enquiries and committees which have repeatedly established caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions. What is missing is concrete action on recommendations of these committees, he added.

“We had the Mungekar Committee before which there was the Thorat Committee which have established and recognised the discrimination against students belonging to certain castes in Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. But unfortunately there hasn’t been any action on their recommendations,” said Dr. Singh.

Anoop Kumar, an activist, highlighted several instances where educational institutions “deliberately” failed the reserved category students in different subjects for years together.

“In all such cases, it has been seen that students were repeatedly failed by just one or two marks in some specific subjects for several years in an attempt to break their morale and brand them forever as ‘inferior’ or ‘incapable’. But whenever the examinations were conducted either under the supervision of the court or through any other external sources, the same set of failed students performed well and were able to clear their exams.”

The recent example is from Vardhman Mahavir Medical College where many reserved category students were repeatedly being failed in Physiology but when the exam was conducted under close supervision of the Delhi High Court, surprisingly, all passed, added Mr. Kumar.

The protesting students of the medical college alleged that in the absence of strict action against the officials involved nothing has changed for them on the ground level and harassment of the reserved category students at the hands of the administration continues. What has disappointed these students is the fact that even the NCSC has not taken any action on the Committee’s recommendation.

NCSC chairman P. L. Poonia, however, claimed that he has already written to the Union Health Ministry and the Delhi Government regarding action against the guilty officials. But for aggrieved students “just writing letters” means that even the “strong” recommendations of Prof. Mungekar will meet the same fate which several others did.