Atrocities in a Medical College in Delhi

Newsletter July 1999

Medical colleges affiliated to Delhi University, had always been fraught with caste discrimination and atrocities on Dalit Medicos. The most glaring of these in the recent times is the brutal assault on Dalit Medicos in the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) by the other Medicos belonging to the general category and also by the teaching faculty of UCMS.

Dalit Medicos, especially in the boys’ hostel of UCMS are forced to live on separate floors and they are made to sit on seperate tables in the common mess. The general category (GC) students always abuse the Dalit students by calling them ‘shaddus’ (derogatory term for SC/STs). In the first year of college, Dalit students are asked by their lecturers about their academic background. For example, teachers constantly ask about the marks scored in class XII and in the pre-medical test, with which actually the caste discrimination starts.

Since the scoring system for SC/STs is a different, they tend to get lesser marks as compared to the GC students.The lecturers in UCMS judge the Dalit students on the basis of their previous lower marks and they continue to give them less marks in tests and sometimes they also fail them.

In 1991, during the ragging period, Dalit students were stripped naked and paraded around the college. They were even asked to touch the feet of senior students and were forced to drink water from their shoes.The Dalit students continued to face such humiliaton at the hands of the GC students throughout the years till 1999. On 22nd February 1999, an announcement was made through the public address system installed there by the GC medicos. All general category students were supposed to come down and beat up the 'shaddus'. They claimed that this was a democratic country and everyone had the right to say and do whatever they wanted. The students then brutally assaulted each Dalit student, dragging them out of their rooms, ransacking their rooms and throwing their belonging out from the balcony. They dragged a Dalit doctor, who was on duty, by his hair to the boys hostel which is a distance of atleast 1km. This incident caused two Dalit sikh medicos to hide under the water tank. One of them said that this situation was much worse than the 1984 riots.

The hostel authorities were also quiet on the matter. The warden, Prof. K K Sharma was asked to intervene, but instead of defusing the situation and punishing the guilty he supported the GC students. The entire teaching faculty was also quiet and acted as if the incident was very trivial. The Dalit students complained to the Principal, whereafter a committee of three members was set up wherein Sharma was one of the members. This committee suspended six students from the hostel out of which four were dalits.

The police also supported the faculty and the GC students. They registered the FIR only a week after the complaint of Dalit students. During this time the GC students framed charges of molestation and physical assault on the Dalit students. In the second week of March the Dalit medicos started an indefinite strike in the college. The college and the hostel were closed for a period of one and a half month soon after the incident. But so far no action has been taken against the guilty.

Saheli expressed its solidarity with the striking students and participated in the demonstrations along with other democratic organisations.