In a span of 10 months, two freshers from the TN Medical College and BYL Nair Hospital have gone missing, for no apparent reason, generating consternation among the authorities, the police, and their peers and kin.

Akshay Meshram (19), a first-year MBBS student of Nair medical college in Mumbai Central, has not been seen since last Thursday. In an uncanny coincidence, Meshram, who comes from Gadchiroli, is the second student from the same college and the same hostel, to disappear. Earlier in December, 2010, Satyendra Singh, a first-year MBBS student from Agra, had similarly gone missing. The police are yet to find him.

The missing medicos: Akshay Meshram's friends say he liked to be by
himself, but seemed to be doing just fine

"It is just a mere happenstance that the two were from the same college. We have an active mentorship programme, and all new students are given a mentor to whom they can turn to for advice, personal or otherwise. The teaching staff is approachable and there is no problem within our hospital," said Dr Ravi Rannavre, dean of Nair hospital.

According to Meshram's peers, he left the hostel room On September 22 and did not return. His roommate, Hemant Jawale, said, "He was pretty normal, but was always by himself and would never join us for outings. He was a little disturbed about scoring poorly in the anatomy test. He was also finding it a little difficult to adjust to the big city life. I didn't think he would go missing like this."

Recalling the last time he talked to his son, Meshram's father, Ashok, said, "It was his decision to join a college in Mumbai. As per his scores, he could have easily got a college in Nagpur, which is just two hours from our village. I used to speak to him on a regular basis. On September 20, I had even deposited Rs 10,000 in his account for his college fee, which he had withdrawn."

While the police is on the lookout for the boy, his family members have started a search of their own. "We are visiting all his friends and our relatives in an around Mumbai to find him. He cannot go missing by himself. I used to talk to him regularly, and he seemed normal," said Dr Piyush Bawane, Meshram's cousin, who is studying in another medical college in the city.

The precedent
While Meshram's family is pinning their hopes on the police, family of Satyendra Singh (19), who went missing in December, is equally baffled to hear of another student going missing.

Singh's father, Dhiraj, a retired Air Force officer, said, "I cannot believe another family is suffering the agony we are going through." He added, "My child has stayed at various places in the country and is bold enough. I suspect some sort of foul play; he can't just go missing like this. The fact that another student has gone missing proves that there is certainly some connection between the incidents."

A missing person's complaint was lodged for Singh, but cops have not made any headway in the case.

"We have registered a missing person's complaint. At present, we don't think there is any connection between the two cases, but our search is on. We are looking out for any activity on Mesharm's phone and cards," said API Kharade from Agripada police station, adding, "Satyendra Singh had gone missing in December and we haven't found him yet."