Turmoil at NIT-Durgapur after student’s death; Irani intervenes

Kolkata, Nov 23 (IANS) The death last Wednesday of an engineering student at National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Durgapur, allegedly due to negligence and ineptitude of the institute, has led to major student unrest which evoked intervention by the union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Officials of the ministry were due to visit the institute on Monday to enquire into the issues raised by the protesting students who say the death of Prosenjit Sarkar was the fifth in the past one year in a series of what the institute had dismissed as case of ‘unnatural death’.

Prosenjit, a fourth year engineering student, suffered persistent headaches for two days that prevented him from completing his semester paper, his classmates said. Despite being approached repeatedly, the medical unit of the NIT failed to attend to his worsening condition or to help him to get treatment from outside.

Caught in this state of negligence and ineptitude of the medical unit, he died on November 18, they said.

The students also said that NIT director Tarkeshwar Kumar refused to speak to them and the chief warden when they approached him to discuss the issue on November 18 and that their protests had instead been responded by the director calling over 150 riot police and RAF personnel.

The students have been protesting, holding vigils, boycotting classes, and have started an online campaign with the hashtag #JusticeForProsenjit.

“Have asked for an explanation from the concerned authorities,” responded union HRD minister Smriti Irani on November 21 to social media messages of the agitating students.

Irani added on Twitter on Sunday that “Officers from MHRD will be in NIT Durgapur tomorrow (Monday).”

The institute said on Sunday that an investigation committee had been set up to probe the incident and a report was expected within a week.

“For the past one year, there has been more than five deaths in the campus and every time the case is closed with the verdict ‘unnatural death’,” the agitating students said.

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