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He survived cancer, but is battling life

C. Maya
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Abhilash Tharammal, of Cheruvayoor, Malappuram, is a cancer survivor. Four years ago, at the age of 24 years, he was diagnosed with cancer of the oropharynx (base of the tongue). He was doing his sixth semester B.Tech. His will and the support of his family and friends saw him through the dark phase.

After surgery and several rounds of radiation therapy, he has remained disease-free in the past three years and regular check-ups have proven him to be healthy. Yet, today, Abhilash is a defeated man. 0He thought that he was starting life anew, when in 2010, he made it to the merit list of candidates selected for the post of Assistant Loco Pilot in the Electrical (Running) of Railways and was allotted to Salem Division

“I was declared medically unfit by the Railway medical authorities. I sought a re-medical examination, with the support of all documents – including a certificate of total fitness from a Medical Board at Kozhikode Medical College and a certificate from the treating doctor at Regional Cancer Centre stating that I was free of disease. The Railways have rejected me again. I cannot think of any reason, other than the fact that I once had cancer, for them to reject my appointment. I did not feel so hopeless even when I was told that I had cancer. If the government cannot accept that I am disease-free and can be a productive citizen, then I have no hope at all,” Abhilash told The Hindu .

High standards

The Railway medical authorities had initially found Abhilash to be medically unfit in classification “Aye One”, which deals with the vision acuity standards of the highest nature, a critical requirement for the post of Assistant Loco Pilot.

However, the Railways said he could seek a re-medical examination, with the support of a medical certificate issued by a competent medical practitioner. The certificate had to have a formal declaration by the doctor that it was being issued in the full knowledge that the candidate had already been examined and rejected as unfit for appointment as Assistant Loco Pilot. Abhilash went a step further and applied to the Medical Board of Kozhikode Medical College for a full medical examination.

He underwent examinations with the Ophthalmology, ENT, Cardiology, Neurology and Orthopaedics departments and was pronounced fully fit by the Medical Board.

The Associate Professor of Ophthalmology issued him a medical certificate (dated March 20, 2013) stating that his vision fully conforms to the standards for required for appointment as Assistant Loco Pilot.

‘Puzzling’

But the communication from the Railways, following his appearing for the re-medical examination, says that he has again been found unfitfor “Aye One” medical classification.

“This is indeed puzzling. t is possible that his past medical condition is being held against him, which is not fair. This candidate should make a strong case of his denial of job opportunity by the Railways before the Central Administrative Tribunal,” a senior Railway official and former member of the Railway Recruitment Board said. Earlier, for candidates rejected as medically unfit under “Aye One” category, the Railways used to offer alternative employment, after determining the candidate’s medical fitness in categories other than “Aye One” and subject to the approval of the General Manager. However, the Railways have stopped this arrangement. Now, if a candidate fails in the medical fitness test in the required grade, he is out of the recruitment process, he said. Abhilash has now filed a case (Case no. 248/2013) before the CAT in Kochi.

Railways deny him job on medical grounds though a Medical Board had pronounced Abhilash fully fit.

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