Calcutta medical college students withdraw ‘hunger strike’

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Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) Senior students of Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, withdrew their indefinite hunger strike here on Monday following a written assurance from the authorities that two floors of A new 11-storey hotel would be allotted to them.

The students had started a protest demonstration on June 24 after authorities at the 183-year-old state-run medical college, one of the oldest of its kind in Asia, notified that the only freshers would be accommodated in the new hostel building. The senior had alleged their existing hostel was in a deplorable state.

The protestors resorted to the “indefinite hunger strike” from July 10 after the authorities called in police in the campus.

On Monday, the new officiating Principal Ashok Bhadra informed the students of the fresh decision, handed over the written order and gave them a glass of water.

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“The council has decided that two floors in the new hostel will be allotted to the first year students, two floors to the post-graduate trainees and two floors to the senior students. The selection of students will be done through an open and transparent counselling,” Bhadra said after the meeting of the college council.

According to him, once the seven-storied-building where 500 students are now staying is ready after renovation and repair, the senior students will be shifted there.

In future, the 11-storey building will be used only for the first year students as per MCI norms. The decision has been forwarded to the higher authorities.

The authorities had so far expressed their inability to house the senior students in the new hostel building citing a Medical Council of India rule that prevents the entry of senior students into a hostel where freshers are staying to prevent ragging.

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The students were elated after their ‘victory’.

“We got the results after a hard struggle and it proves that the authorities cannot do whatever they feel like. This decision should have been taken earlier, even before we took to hunger strike,” said Aniket Chatterjee, a protesting student.

“We are happy that our demands have been fulfilled. Many times we were in doubt about the consequences. Now that we are able to give food to our friends, we are satisfied and we feel victorious,” a female student said.

Earlier in the morning Veteran Congress leader Somen Mitra visited the students.

Pointing out that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself had resorted to ‘hunger strike’ to oppose the wrongs, he said: “Today when students are on a hunger strike demanding their rights, why will it not be accepted.”

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