In a room on the fourth floor of the boys hostel of GMERS Medical College at Gotri in Vadodara, MBBS student Devkishan Katariya’s inconsolable father and some of his relatives wait for his return. The last time his friends saw him was last Friday night. Since then, he has been “missing”. Two mobile phones, a wallet and a two-page letter were all he had left on the bed of his hostel room, before leaving. In the letter addressed to his parenrts, Devkishan had accused the college for purposely failing him in his exam.
Failing in two papers meant that Devkishan, a final year student, was ineligible to apply for internships, which are part of the medical degree. It also meant that he could appear for the repeat exams only after six months, and apply for internships only after the results for the same were declared a year later.
In his letter, Devkishan has accused a faculty member, Ashish Shah, of failing him on purpose. One of the subjects in which he failed, was examined by six teachers, including Shah — the other five examiners were appointed by the university who are not known to the students.
However, Shah, who heads the department of gynaecology, denied the allegations levelled by Devkishan. “If you cross check the breakdown of his marks, the student (Devkishan) has not failed in my paper, but overall. The allegations have been levvelled against me because I am the only known person to him, while he doesn’t know the other examiners,” Shah said.
The dean of the medical college, Minoo Patel, said that while the college cannot bend rules for the student, they will counsel Devkishan and help him deal with the situation. “He can only appear for the exams after six months from now, but for now we sincerely pray that he comes back soon and is safe,” said Patel. While Devkishan never failed in the university exams prior to this, the Dean called his performance till date “mediocre”. A picture that begs to differ when one talks to his school teacher who called him a “bright and promising” student, who was always one of their favourite students.
Devkishan’s batchmates recall that for almost a week he kept saying that he was “marked failed on purpose”. Some of his batchmates said that they tried to console Devkishan to help him come to terms with the results and also denied any previous instance of any kind of conflict between Devkishan and Shah.
Describing him as a very social person, who regularly attended the classes, Devkishan’s friends said that he had no “vices” and did not indulge in any quarrels with anyone on the campus. “He was very amicable and approachable. We met him at the hostel lobby at around 11 pm on Friday night,” said a friend.
His father, Devish, said that he had tried to comfort his son after the results were out, urging him to look beyond failures. “I told him that you need to stay strong and asked him to come home on Friday night itself, but he insisted that he would only come the next day (Saturday). His friends have also told us that they last met him on Friday night at 11 pm in the lobby of the hostel,” said Devish.
“We repeatedly called him all throughout the day on Saturday, but his calls went unanswered. It was then that I rang up Krishna Singh, who works at the canteen, to find out about him. Singh informed me that Dev was not in his room, but had left behind his two mobile phones, a wallet and a letter. On Saturday evening, I reached Vadodara and filed a missing complaint at Gorwa police station,” Devish, who stays in Mahobatpara in Gir Gadhada, said.
The third child to his parents, Devkishan dreamt of pursuing medicine from his early years, his relatives said. He finished his schooling from Surat’s Dakshinamurti Vidyalaya with 85 per cent marks, and cleared the Guj-CET and secured a seat at the medical College. According to his father, who is a labour contractor, Devkishan was never interested in joining his business and “always had bigger dreams for himself”.
The incident has galvanised the students of the medical college who held a silent rally on Monday on the campus, demanding college authorities to expedite the search for Devkishan.
On Tuesday, the Dean sought police protection, claiming that few students complained of being threatened by some “unsocial elements” to not attend classes or move out of the hostel. Devkishan’s family members and people from his community have been camping at the hostel since Sunday. After the relatives threatened to get an FIR filed against Shah, they were pacified by University Dean Hemant Mathur, who assured them that he will appeal to the Police Commissioner to expedite the search for the missing student.
Even the Chief Minister’s Office has intervened after Vadodara city Mayor Bharat Dangar and MLA Vasna Ahir appealed to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to order a probe into the case. Meanwhile, police dispatched a team to Gir-Somnath on Monday night. A police source said that the student was spotted in Junagadh. The “breakthrough” comes after days of their search heading no way.