Mahar community members and civil society groups will gather outside KEM hospital in Mumbai on January 18, 2022 to condemn the harassment and ragging of a student hailing from a Scheduled Caste (SC) who is facing caste-based atrocities at the hostel since 2019.
The youth was a student of the Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas (GS) Medical College. He reported that 16 persons, including 12 medical students living in the KEM hostel and two doctors working at the hospital have constantly attacked him since 2019. After seeking the help of Jaati Ant Sangharsh Samiti leader Subodh More, he managed to lodge a complaint with the police that charged the accused under various clauses of section 3 of the SC and ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act, 1989, section 4 of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 and other IPC sections such as intentionally insulting a person to provoke and criminal intimidation.
According to his complaint, the youth’s roommates persistently verbally abused him by using castesist slurs and forced him to do odd jobs for them like cleaning utensils and washing clothes. The individual sent a letter to the hospital dean and other authorities many times through the years. However, he claimed his complaints were dismissed. In the FIR, the youth spoke about how even the warden participated in the harassment. The authority figure kept him from using the same amenities as the other students such as the clothesline and told the youth to maintain a distance while talking. He also threatened the 24-year-old not to come near his house while others in the hostel were invited to his place.
However, members of the community were disheartened to see the Bhoiwada police’s continued inaction, even a month after the 24-year-old medical student complained of torturous treatment in the hostel.
According to The Free Press Journal and the Hindustan Times, two Deans between 2019 and 2022 told the media that an anti-ragging committee was started twice to investigate the accusations. On both counts, the committees found nothing.
However, More, who was a part of the committee meetings said that the committees failed to record his concerns and views during the talks. He further stated that as per anti-ragging laws, a committee should have already been functioning when the youth started living in the hostel. However, the committee was formed late. He also criticised the college authorities because as per UGC guidelines and anti-ragging law, the allegations should have been reported to the police within 24 hours.
The youth finally approached the State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as a third-year post-graduate student around December 21, 2021. His first complaint was filed on April 10, 2019. A month after approaching the state-level body, the police filed an FIR against the accused but to little avail.
“Even four days after reporting the incident, police did not question any of the accused. This could’ve been another Payal Tadvi case,” said More.
He referred to the death of Dr. Payal Tadvi, who hailed from a Scheduled Tribe (ST), who worked as a resident doctor at BYL Nair hospital but died after severe harassment due to her community origins. Her institutional murder was widely condemned across Maharashtra.
For this reason, More has called for a silent protest outside the hospital on Tuesday. He called upon all students, civil society groups, Ambedkarite movement, activists and journalists to join the protest while following Covid norms.
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