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Hindu College professor, who pushed for Covid care centre at DU, dies

In his last Facebook post on May 1, Jonwal wrote, “There was a tweet from DU for setting up a Covid care centre. How long will it take?”

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
May 25, 2021 9:54:35 pm
C L JonwalC L Jonwal, Associate Professor of Zoology at Hindu College, died of Covid-19

Associate Professor of Zoology at Hindu College, C L Jonwal (42), who was battling Covid-19, passed away following a heart attack late Monday night. His death has prompted anger from sections of the teaching community towards the university administration, as Sonwal had earlier demanded the setting up of a Covid care centre on campus.

In his last Facebook post on May 1, Jonwal wrote, “There was a tweet from DU for setting up a Covid care centre. How long will it take?” On April 22, he had written, “To meet any medical exigency, the WUS (Health Centre), DU should keep ready sufficient well-equipped infrastructure.” Around 45 teachers of DU have died of Covid till date.

In another post on April 28, he had written, “In 2020, Covid-19 took us by surprise because it came out of the blue. But we failed miserably in 2021 because we were underprepared. How poor learner we are!”

Jonwal was a Dalit and is survived by his wife Raksha Verma, who teaches maths at another DU college, and two school-going children. He had been promoted to Associate Professor less than two months ago.

Jonwal had tested positive for Covid in April-end while he was still in Delhi. However, due to the scarcity of oxygen and hospital beds at the time, Jonwal left for his hometown in Alwar, Rajasthan a few days later, sources said.

“He panicked a bit. There was a feeling at least over there he may get oxygen, which was difficult to find here. He was hospitalised over there,” said a teacher.

However, around five days ago, his condition deteriorated, and he was shifted to AIIMS, Delhi.  Chandrachur Singh, a political science teacher at Hindu College, was among those who had been in touch with Jonwal’s family during this time.

“On the night of May 20, I got to know through a colleague that his condition was serious. Through some contacts, he was admitted to AIIMS around 6 pm on May 21. By and large, his oxygen saturation was being maintained with some fluctuations. But it seems he had pneumonia and developed pneumothorax. Last night around 11 pm, I was informed he had a heart attack. Doctors tried to resuscitate him, but by 1 am or so, he was gone,” said Singh.

“We have 110 oxygen beds at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI). We have two spacious guesthouses. DU has two medical colleges and one nursing college. Why were they not brought to use? This is not just about the 45 teachers but also the non-teaching staff and their dependents,” he said.

Singh remembered Jonwal as “bright, humble and ever-smiling”.

Prem Chand, a friend of Jonwal’s and Assistant Professor at ARSD College, took to Twitter to vent his ire against the DU administration. “Dear VC, our teacher Dr. C L Jonwal demanded sufficient well equipped Covid care infrastructure in DU. He continuously asking how long will it take? We also write to you regarding this. But you ignored!! He has lost his life. Very sad”, he tweeted.

Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “DU has no dearth of resources. They have top scientists and researchers working in the university. There are medical colleges and nursing homes under DU… We had told the administration last year itself to set up a Covid care centre, but nothing happened.”

On Monday, DU inaugurated a post-Covid care centre at VPCI, but Singh and DU Teachers’ Association President Rajib Ray said there was nothing new in the services being offered there. “On April 27, we had demanded a Covid care centre. But yesterday, we saw the inauguration… It is not that it is not important, but it is too little too late. The facilities already existed. We didn’t get what we demanded,” said Ray.

Dean of Colleges Balaram Pani, however, said there were logistical issues. “VPCI was already dealing with other pulmonary issues, so we could not open a separate Covid wing. The medical director told us that out of 7-8 doctors, several were infected with Covid themselves, so there was a manpower crunch. We were keen to start a Covid care centre,” he said.

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