The students have been protesting over the March 14 road accident that killed four students

Osmania medical students boycott classes say We want justice for our friends By arrangement
news Protests Monday, March 21, 2016 - 16:08

A week has passed since the accident on March 14, in which the lives of four students of Osmania Medical College were lost. But students of the college and family members of the deceased students are still struggling with the loss, and are angry about what they feel is a thoroughly insufficient response from the college and the government.

Jawahar, whose brother Pranay Raja Ram, was killed in the accident, says that his parents are so shattered that they are having trouble living in the same house that Pranay lived in until a few days ago. “I need to relocate my parents from this place as my parents starts crying whenever they enter Pranay's room or see anything related to my him. I never cried this much in life and I can never cry anymore in my life".

But under that grief, there is also a lot of anger against those Jawahar holds responsible for the accident. “There are three sets of people responsible for this horrible accident — the driver, the travel agency and the college administration.”

Jawahar says that each time his brother was to travel for an event from the college, he would ask his brother for the details of the arrangements made by the college. But, he found that it was the students themselves who made arrangements, “they [the college administration] never arranged anything for the students.”

The state government has not done anything for the bereaved families either, he alleges. “The Telangana Health Minister came to meet the students after the accident but he just took a picture with my dad and left and after that day we never got any response from the government.”

This anger is reflected by the students, who have organized a series of silent protests on the campus, and have boycotted all classes at the college.

The students had met the principal on March 17, submitting a list of 12 demands including financial assistance of Rs. 25 lakh and government employment for one member of each family of a deceased student; medical reimbursement for all injured students; immediate legal action against Dhanunjaya Travels (which provided the bus) and compensation from the travel agency; and immediate provision of college buses for all academic and extra-curricular activities.

The students also held a candle-light rally at Indira Park on March 17 and on campus on March 19, following a condolence meeting.

Naveen Rathore from Adilabad, one of the students on the bus who was injured in the accident, told The News Minute that the accident could have been easily avoided if the driver had been willing to listen to the students.

“We tried everything we could to make him stop, but he didn’t listen us to at all. I feel really lucky that I survived such a horrible accident, but at the same time, I am very disappointed that we lost our friends due to the irresponsibility of our college administration and government.”

“We need justice for our friends,” he affirmed.

For many of the students, the roots of the problem go deeper than the driver being drunk that day. One point has come up again and again in these protests, that the administration has consistently failed to upgrade or even maintain its own buses. The college has just three buses, purchased in 1993, all of which are in a bad  state of repair.

This was the reason the students had to opt for private transport arranged through a travel agency, students say. Dr. Srikanth, a student at the college, said that while the buses stand in the campus, and the drivers continue to be paid, the students hardly use the buses since they are in a pitiable condition.

“These buses are not even worth using for short trips, but some students have been forced to travel long distances in these buses.” Some of the buses, he says, have not been used for more than two years now.

College authorities meanwhile say that while many requests for new buses have been made to the government, they have never been acceded to. A recent allocation in the state budget for buses for medical colleges in the city, they say, have raised hopes that the college may now get new buses.  

The abysmal condition of the buses is not an exception when it comes to infrastructure of the college, says Srikanth. “We have a college canteen which started years ago, but the food over there is so bad that we can't even imagine eating there.”

The students are determined not to return the campus to normalcy until all of their demands are met by the administration. “We are on a silent protest and will boycott our classes till we get written assurance from the administration and the government about our demands and compensation for the students’ families who lost their lives in the accident".

The bereaved families are also determined to see things through to the end. “I will fight till they fulfil all our demands. Getting into Osmania is not an easy job, people spend crores to get into such colleges, so the families of students who lost their lives should get similar compensation.”

The protesting students on the campus have also received support from the teaching and non-teaching staff, leading to a complete shutdown of the college. 

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