Two more students on Saturday joined the hunger strike being held by a section of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) students, who are demanding berths in the new hostel accommodation built by the institution. While six students had first started the hunger strike, which crossed 100 hours on Saturday, one fell sick and had to be admitted to the hospital. Seven are now continuing with the protest.
The issue revolves around a newly constructed 11-storey hostel. The students who were residing in the old building wanted to be shifted to the new one. However, college authorities had issued a notification saying only freshers would be given accommodation in the new building. They pointed out that rules set by the Medical Council of India (MCI) required new students to be given separate accommodation to avoid ragging.
So far, Principal Uchhal K Bhadra has refused to accept the students’ demand concerning the new hostel; however, he said the other demand calling for a qualified MD hostel superintendent instead of an RMO could be fulfilled. A meeting held on Friday between Bhadra, the protesters and the hostel administration failed to yield results.
“Total 106 students of the first year had applied to the hostel. Many of them already reside in Kolkata, still, everyone who applied got accommodation. On the contrary, there are several students of the second and third years who have come from Darjeeling, Midnapore and other districts but are yet to get accommodation. Our only demand is that college authority must ensure a transparent hostel allotment system. Students must get accommodation on the basis of seniority and distance of their hometown from the college. A second-year student of Midnapore is definitely more deserving than a first-year student who stays in Rajabazar or any other part of Kolkata,” final-year student Sheikh Md Sagir told The Sunday Express.
“We have been on hunger strike for more than 100 hours. As per the Medical Council of India, 75 per cent of students must be given hostel accommodation, while for the last three years, there hasn’t been any counselling for the hostel. How can seniors be deprived of accommodation when juniors are allocated hostel beds?” said another student. Students also said the other 60 boys who are seeking hostel accommodation will join the hunger strike if varsity authorities do not accept their demands.
Meanwhile, Principal Bhadra, who was only recently transferred to the college, appealed to students to call off the hunger strike. “As per MCI guidelines, freshers and seniors cannot be accommodated in the same building. I am just following the rules… The hostel problem has been there for years… Give me some time, I will solve the students’ problems,” he said.