14-day long hunger strike at Calcutta Medical College and hospital came to an end after authorities accepted the demands of students on hostel accommodation. The hunger strike was called off on 23rd July after receiving a written assurance from the college authorities.
The 320-hour-long strike demanded that the second, third and fourth-year students be provided accommodation in the newly built 11-storeyed hostel building. Earlier, the hostel authorities had said that accommodation would only be allotted to first-year students.
“Hostel accommodation is something that we struggle with each year. While at least 75% of the students should be accommodated in the hostel buildings, most of the students stay in PGs outside the campus which cost around 12000- 14000 per month. When a new building was put up inside the campus, we were informed by the authorities that it is only for the first-year students,” says Rumelika Kumar a fourth-year student at Calcutta Medical College.
Explaining the context of the strike, Rumelika adds, “The authorities when informed of the lack of hostel facilities, kept saying that they would look into it, but they never did. After the new building became functional, we went to the authorities to request them to give proper hostel admissions to students. However, we were informed that the building was only for the first years.”Though there were repeated attempts to negotiate with the administration, all of them failed and resulted in a hunger strike. The strike began on July 10th with 6 students. By July 15, 15 more students had joined the protesters.
Students allege that the condition of the main hostel building where seniors stay is deplorable. The hostel lacks basic facilities including clean drinking water, hygienic food, clean bathrooms and electricity in the restroom. The inability to accommodate senior students, according to the authorities, was because of the ruling from the Medical Council of India which restricts the entry of senior students in hostels which accommodate freshers in order to prevent ragging.
“We tried to talk to the authorities a lot of times but that was a failure. We were finally pushed to go on a strike. We started on 10th July and the principal called the police and TMC goons on 15th July. They beat us. When they couldn’t bring down the strike, the principal, Uchhal K Bhadra did ‘drama’ and was admitted in ICU. They said he had a heart attack while his ECG was normal. We personally went and clarified the same,” adds Rumelika.
The students also allege that the in-charge of hostel accommodation was given to Mr.Mondal, an ex-student and a TMC leader from the campus. “The head for the hostel is Mr. Mondal, an ex-student and TMC (Trinamool Congress) leader who was admitted into our college in 2009 and who passed out in 2016. We told the authorities that nobody with such political power should be assigned a position. It should be someone from the department or a professor who should be in charge of the hostel while Mr .Mondal is a student who passed out from the campus,” said one of the students.
The decision to provide hostel accommodation to senior students was made on Monday, post an academic council meeting. As per the new ruling, senior students would be provided accommodation in two floors of the hostel temporarily. The authorities also informed that students will be allotted permanent accommodation once the new hostel buildings become functional.