The Madras Christian College in Chennai is witnessing protests by over 500 students after Mahima, a first-year student of the college, died during a mandatory physical activity, that was allegedly forced upon her. The incident took place on Monday afternoon when Mahima was told to take part in the mandatory sports activity, allegedly despite her request to take rest on account of low blood pressure and anaemia. It is not clear whether she had any other medical condition that the college was unaware of.
The protests started soon after Mahima's death at a private hospital in Tambaram and gathered steam on Tuesday at the campus. While no action has been taken against the staff, shockingly, the 'Sports for All' event scheduled to be held on Wednesday has not been cancelled.
According to the students, the Principal has refused to speak to the protesting students, terming them a 'mob'. He has asked the students to select 5-6 student representatives he can speak to.
According to the students of the college, Mahima, a student from the Chemistry Department, complained of low blood pressure, anaemia to her physical education teacher, who denied her request to rest. The physical education teacher, according to other students, told Mahima that her blood would start ‘pumping’ again if she ran more rounds around the field.
Speaking to TNM, one student who took part in the protests said, “The trainers are usually just students of the Physical Education Department. The trainer told Mahima that if she runs one more round, her anaemia will go. She was sent for basketball practice right after running. She fainted on the court. Nobody was there to give proper CPR. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was declared brought dead. The hospital has said that this is a cardiac arrest triggered by dehydration."
The students say that they have for long protested the mandatory programme.
“We have a mandatory programme in college called Sports for All. It is compulsory for all first years, no matter what illness we have. We have to run eight rounds around the field without stopping and then we have to play a sport like cricket, football or athletics. For other subjects, we can request OD(Other Duty) but for Sports for All, we cannot. We can take only two days' leave. If we take more than that, it will become an arrears paper,” explains the student. According to the college website, the programme commenced in 2017.
The students also allege that the college is conducting a clampdown with no students being allowed inside campus in fears that they might take part in the ongoing protest, the canteen too was shut on Tuesday.
Despite protests and calls from the media, the college authorities are yet to respond to the developments, stating that they would do so after the student’s funeral at 5 pm.