More than 50 hours after an MBBS student from Vadodara’s Gotri Medical college went missing, a letter left behind by him is all that the police found in its initial probe. The letter, written by Devkishan Kataria, a final year MBBS student at the GMERS medical college who went missing from his hostel room on Saturday morning, blames the college for having purposely failed him in his exam.
The letter, addressed to his parents, have left them inconsolable. Over 400 students took out a silent rally on Monday morning, demanding support from the college authorities to expedite the search for Devkishan. A native of Mahobatpara in Gir Gadhada, people from Devkishan’s community from across Vadodara came in to support the Kataria family, while the college authorities sought police protection to thwart any law and order problem at the campus. The community has even written a letter to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, education minister and health minister of Gujarat to intervene and facilitate the search process.
The parents sought answers from the college authorities about what they have been doing to look for the missing student and what action they plan to take against the faculty member, Ashish Shah, whose name was mentioned in the letter that Devkishan left behind. The college authorities informed Devkishan’s relatives that they have been in constant touch with the police and are keeping a tab on the developments of the case. The relatives, who threatened that they would file an FIR against Shah, were pacified by the university dean Dr Hemant Mathur, who assured them that he will appeal to the commissioner of police himself to expedite the search.
One of the subjects in which Devkishan failed constituted of six examiners, including Shah, while the others are examiners appointed by the university who are unknown to the students. Shah denied the allegations and said, “If you cross check the breakdown, the student has not failed in my paper, but overall. The allegations are put on me because I am the only known person to him, while he doesn’t know the others.”
Devkishan’s batchmates recall that for almost a week he kept saying that he was “marked failed on purpose”. Some batchmates admitted that they tried to console him to help him come to terms with the fact. The students also denied any previous instance of contention between Devkishan and Shah. Describing him as a very social person, who regularly attended classes, Devkishan’s friends also said he had no vices and had not indulged in any fights 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 Kataria, said he had tried to comfort his disheartened son after the results, urging him to look beyond failures. Devish said, “I told him that you need to stay strong and asked him to come home on Friday itself, but he insisted that he would only come the following 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.” Devish recalled that despite repeatedly calling him all of Saturday, his calls went unanswered. “It was then that I rang up Krishna Singh, who works at the canteen, to find out about him. Singh then informed me that Dev was not in his room but had left behind his two mobile phones, a wallet and a two-page-long letter. On Saturday evening, I reached Vadodara and filed a missing complaint at the Gorwa police station,” he said.
On the fourth floor of the boys hostel – the same room that is the only witness to Devkishan’s final turmoil before he left – is now occupied by his father and his other relatives who are waiting restlessly for him to return. The third child to his parents, he was the only one in the Kataria family to have dreamt of pursuing medicine and even fulfilled it. He finished his schooling from Surat’s Dakshinamurti Vidyalaya with 85 per cent and cleared the Guj-CET and secured a seat at the GMERS Medical College. His father is a labour contractor and says that his son was never interested in joining him in the business and always had bigger dreams for himself.
After failing his two exams, Devkishan was not eligible to apply for internships, which are part of the medical degree. His failure had meant that he could only appear for repeat exams after six months and apply for internships only after the results for the same were declared, almost a year later. Dean of GMERS 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 now, but for now we sincerely pray that he comes back soon and safe,” said dean of GMERS Medical College Dr Minoo Patel. While he never failed in university exam prior to this, the dean called his performance ‘mediocre’.
The picture begs to differ when one talks to his school teacher, who calls him a bright and promising student. One of Devkishan’s school teachers even accompanied his father to Vadodara, skipping his medical appointments, to be with him and search for his student. The police is searching for leads to trace Devkishan by checking CCTV cameras at bus stops and railway station in Vadodara. “We are yet to get any lead in the case, but we are putting in all the efforts to find him. He has not been seen on any public CCTV camera at the bus stops and railway station so far,” said SM Bharwad, Gorwa police sub-inspector.