NIT Mizoram: Students Allege Infected Mess Food & Negligence Of Management Led To Death Of A 23-Yr-Old
Devsharan Kumar (23), a first-year student of Electrical Engineering Department in National Institute of Technology (NIT) Mizoram, died on March 31 due to absolute ignorance of management of the institute. The last words of Devsharan who hailed from Mahadalit community (marginalised section among the Scheduled Castes of Bihar) were “Papa you are late; I do not want to die… Please, save me!“
Students of this institution have been protesting to bring justice to Devsharan and his family.
Negligence Of The Institute
According to the reports of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Guwahati, Devsharan suffered a septicaemic shock due to an infection in his throat and lungs. He earlier had complained of severe food poisoning due to the poor quality of food and water that are being provided to the students. Students of the college said that the food served to them is stale and infected with worms. A few other students along with Devsharan had faced throat infection issues. Notably, the students are charged Rs. 30,000 per semester for the mess fees. Before his demise, the students had conducted three strikes after they found an insect in the food. The college, which is one of the leading institutes of this country had no RO purifier and students end up consuming unclean and unfiltered water.
A private contractor runs the hostel mess and whenever students make any complaint to the authorities regarding food, they get one answer “We are helpless due to the poor geographical location of the hostel.”
“This is not for the first time, previously also we had asked the authorities to monitor the quality of food we receive. Despite our complaints, no action has been taken to improve the situation, it has rather turned worse since we have lost a friend and his poor parents have lost their hope,” said a college student on condition of anonymity.
Some of his batchmates told The Logical Indian that the hostel warden, Ajmal Koya, was very well aware of the pathetic condition of the victim as Devsharan informed him 15 days before his death. However, his complaints fell on deaf ears, and warden did not offer him help. It was alleged that the examination-in charge, K Gyanendra did not allow the student to go home due to mid-term exams.
Authorities simply ignored his critical condition. Devsharan had no money to pay for a health checkup, but his friends took him to the hospital which is situated at a distance of 8 km and bore the expense for the transport and treatment. Somehow, the victim managed to appear for his first exams but his health deteriorated in the exam hall, and it was then that the authorities allowed him to go home without even bothering to send an attendant with him. At the airport, the staff declared him unfit to travel and later he was admitted to a nearby hospital.
The Pain Of Devsharan’s Family
Reportedly, the father of the deceased, Ramvilas Ram, had no money to visit Mizoram from Guwahati to collect the belongings of his son. Somehow, he arranged the money and travelled to Guwahati where he met his son at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of GMCH. According to students, Devsharan was very intelligent and wanted to be an IAS officer. For his education, the father who just earns a mere Rs. 6,000 had borrowed money from relatives and friends. Sadly, the father cremated his son in Guwahati as after paying hospital fees, he was left with no money to arrange a flight ticket to take his son’s body home. It is very difficult to even fathom the pain of the mother who could not see her son on his last rite.
Students Seek Justice For Devsharan
Since the death of Devsharan, the students have been protesting inside the campus against the negligence of authorities and the unhygienic conditions provided to them. They did not appear for the mid-term exams even after the request of college authorities. They have put forward their demands seeking an investigating team from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to probe into the matter. They also called out the resignation of Gyanendra and Koya, whom they accuse of causing the student’s death. They further stressed on the need to appoint a medical inspector and Primary Healthcare (PHC) in the college, the formation of the student council, better facilities in hostels and compensation of at least Rs. 1 crore to the victim’s family. However, when no one appeared from the management to solve the grievances for five days, two college students tried to commit suicide by pouring kerosene on their bodies on April 3.
The absence of attention from media led the students to ask support from other NIT and IIT students. The students of several renowned universities like the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU), NIT Srinagar, NIT Meghalaya, NIT Uttarakhand, NIT Patna and NIT Manipur carried out candle marches in solidarity with NIT Mizoram students. Now, the students are not willing to talk to the management as they only want MHRD officials to come forward to provide justice to Devsharan.
As per the students, after seeing that the issue has reached the national level, the district authorities conducted a meeting. The students of the Mizoram campus met Deputy Commissioner Aizawl and Chief Minister of the State who have assured to put all their demands in front of MHRD.
A Meeting With MHRD Officials
As per the students, an MHRD official appeared in the campus on Friday who seemed uninterested in taking any action on the demands. On the resignation of warden and examination, he said, “I would ask the state officials to form a committee that would start an inquiry in two days, but the submission of a report to MHRD would take at least a month.” For compensation, he said it would take longer time, and it is entirely in the hands of ministry.
The social media became a platform to voice the matter and demands of outraged students and friends. The government-funded institution that charged Rs 2 lakh per student out of which around Rs 30,000 is kept for food, seems to turn a blind eye to facilitate the basic needs of the students.
When The Logical Indian tried to contact NIT Mizoram for their statement there was no answer from their side.
The Logical Indian appeals to the management of the institute and MHRD to take strict action on the negligence part and provide justice to Devsharan and his family.
Also published on Medium.