Dehradun: Doon Medical College has expelled five MBBS doctors from the hostel for holding a sit-in protest against the administration’s decision from 2019 to hike the annual fee from Rs 50,000 to Rs 4 lakh.
According to a second-year medical student, several students have been on strike for the past 25 days, yet they haven’t heard any satisfactory response from the administration. Students allege that the administration, in turn, has been accusing the protestors of “playing politics” on campus and disturbing classes.
“The students have been asked to leave the hostel for not listening to the warden, disrespecting security, and for instigating their juniors to participate in the agitation as found by the disciplinary committee of the college,” the college’s principal Ashutosh Sayana told the Times of India.
According to the report, the students were allegedly thrown out of the hostel without any prior notice, giving them no time to look for alternative accommodation. Out of five who have been expelled, three are outstation students.
However, students say that they have been peacefully holding the strike while attending classes while also fulfilling their in-ward duties, and therefore all the allegations of disturbing the college environment are “baseless”.
“We have been protesting for almost a month now, and have been attending all our classes and serving our duties in the wards. Such is the profession, we really can’t afford to boycott our classes, but this issue is also grave and requires immediate attention” said a second-year medical student.
The annual fee of government medical colleges, students say, ranges from Rs 8,000 to Rs 75,000 across the country. A lot of students from SC, ST, OBC communities, and others who cannot afford medical education at private institutions – where the annual fee typically ranges from Rs 10 lakh to rs 25 lakh – clear the NEET exam to study at government institutions. While at other medical institutions, the fees are affordable, but not in Doon Medical College and other institutions in Srinagar and Haldwani, as students told LiveWire. With the fee hike, which is almost four times the previous amount, students in this college have had to run pillar to post to apply for loans.
“I come from a middle-class family, and last year, my parents somehow paid the fee, but I don’t think they can do the same for the subsequent years. There are many students from Dalit communities and other marginalised backgrounds, and for them, it is next to impossible to pay such an exorbitant fee,” said the second-year student.
According to him, the college continued sending notices to students to pay the full amount, even during the lockdown, when the entire country was dealing with an unforeseen economic crisis. The defaulters were asked to pay a penalty fee of Rs 10,000 as surcharge fees, students said.
“A lot of us have had to apply for loans and make other arrangements to pay our fees last year, and because of which, some of us missed the deadline and had to pay the penalty fees along with the annual fees,” the student added.
According to the Times of India, Sayana, the principal, said that it was the state government that decided the fee structure, and therefore the college administration have no choice but to abide by the decision taken by the government.
Students say that they have also approached the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, as well as the state health minister, and they have said that they will look into the matter. As of now, students have been informed that a cabinet meeting on the issue will be conducted on September 24, 2021.
In the meantime, students will continue the protest and stand in support of the students who have been expelled from the hostel.
Featured image credit: Special arrangement