Ragging horror: Junior student attacked with blade by seniors at Mumbai medical college

If you thought that the Hippocratic oath taught freshly graduated doctors a thing or two about kindness and compassion, think again. Harish Chowdhury, a 19-year-old junior medical student of Rajiv Gandhi Medical College, has made shocking revelations about the ordeal he and his batch mates had to suffer at the hands of six interning MBBS doctors on Thursday night. The aspiring doctor was not only humiliated along with his peers, but also singled out and slashed with a blade -- all because he had refused to fetch cigarettes for one of his seniors a few days before the incident.

Harish Chowdhury

A case against six MBBS interns from the college was lodged last morning at Kalwa police station, after Harish decided to take a stand and informed his college dean about the atrocities he and his friends were subjected to.

Docs in the dock: While five of the accused have been arrested, one is absconding. Pics/Sameer Markande

Speaking to MiD DAY, Harish -- who arrived in the city less than a month ago -- said, “Around 11 pm, when I was having dinner, one of the senior doctors accosted me, saying that I was being called to room four. I finished my dinner and went to the room, only to find the other junior students present there, wearing only their underpants. As soon as I entered, they said that they had already decided to hit me. I was made to strip down to my underpants and dance, like my batch mates were already doing. It was a humiliating experience.”

VICTIM: Harish Chowdhury has made shocking revelations about the ordeal he and his batchmates had to suffer at the hands of six interning MBBS doctors

But his ordeals did not end there. Even though they let his batch mates leave the room, the seniors asked Harish to stay back, and attacked his left hand with a blade.

Harish says he was singled out because of his political connections. A native of Uttar Pradesh, he is the son of a former MLA of Ambedkar Nagar. He revealed that the seniors kept threatening that they would hit him, as he is an MLA’s son. Harish also believes that the assault was payback for his refusal to get cigarettes for one of his seniors a few days ago. “They probably held that anger against me, which they vented by cutting my hand with a blade.”

Not one to take the abuse lying down, Harish decided to fight back. “I immediately phoned my father and informed him what had happened. He advised me to inform the authorities what had happened. The college dean was very prompt in taking action and helped me in registering the FIR,” said the teenager, who added that the seniors were drinking alcohol when he entered the room.

Dr C Maitra, the college dean who lives in the campus, contacted the police chowkie within the campus and informed the cops about the incident.  

Not a stray incident
>> May 10: Nitin Padalkar, a 19-year-old engineering student from Navi Mumbai, killed himself on the railway tracks between Vithalwadi and Ulhasnagar railway stations. The police also found a handwritten suicide note in which Padalkar named two classmates who had been torturing him mentally and wrote that they must be punished. The Dr DY Patil Engineering College has set up an internal inquiry committee comprising senior professors to look into the case.

>> July 26, 2012: Five suspended students and a former student of Bandra-based LS Raheja School of Art boarded the second-class compartment of a Churchgate-bound train in which nine third-year Arts students, including five girls, were travelling. The seniors demanded money from the juniors, and when they refused, abused them and threatened to beat them up.

>> January 3, 2010: Bhoiwada police arrested 18 students from KEM Hospital’s physiotherapy and occupational therapy streams for ragging 10 younger students within their hostel premises in Naigaum.

Ten freshers had filed a complaint against their seniors with the police as well as the medical college authorities, saying they were allegedly asked to strip, use lewd language and perform mock sexual acts.

DIAL 1800-180-5522 to speak to counsellors at the
24x7 anti-ragging helpline run by Mumbai University

The swift action taken by Harish’s college dean and the Kalwa police is in sharp contrast with Mumbai's most infamous Indu Anto case of August 4, 1998. Indira, a 16-year-old FYJC student of Sophia College, Pedder Road, had allegedly committed suicide by throwing herself off the terrace of her hostel after allegedly being ragged and humiliated by her peers.

Fifteen years on, her Congressman father C L Anto, now based in Kerala, continues to fight a lone battle to secure justice for his only child. The case filed by the CID in the Bombay high court was closed in 2010, when the main accused, Michelle ‘Souza, was acquitted. Co-accused Greta Colaco had been let off earlier.

While the Kalwa police have arrested five of the accused, the sixth person named by Harish is absconding. The arrested accused have been identified as Mangesh Rane (25), Achyut Narute (23), Prabhakar Talavade (25), Shailesh Gada (23) and Viresh Nashte (23). Sharad Patil (25) has managed to escape.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Senior Police Inspector Prakash Nilewad from Kalwa police station said, “The accused are all senior internship doctors who called the junior doctors and made them strip and dance in their underpants from 11.30 pm to 1am on Thursday. It is surprising that such highly educated boys indulged in such behaviour. The entire incident happened in room no four of the boys’ hostel.”

Dr C Maitra, college dean
The victim’s medico legal case (MLC) examination has been done, since he reported physical assault. Previously, cases of ragging were reported and we did take the necessary action; however, the issue never got so serious. Depending on the orders given by the court, necessary action would be taken in future.

Dr Pravin Shringare, director of Medical Education
The local dean of the college needs to take action in such cases. If the allegations are proved to be true, the medical registration of the accused
can be cancelled and the person would not be able to practice further. However, the accused needs to be proved guilty first. 

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