In a dental college in Beed, first-year students are forced to perform their practicals on a six-year-old cadaver, foul and fetid. The lectures seldom occur, as there is hardly any teaching faculty or other staff. Pupils are made to sit with fans and lights switched off. They have also been asked to pay the electricity bill. The college has no laboratory or equipment, vital for students studying to be doctors. And there are no practicals for biochemistry, physiology and dental histology.
While these allegations are only slightly more startling than the generally abject state of “higher” education in the country, something more wretched transpired at the institute, Aditya Dental College. Sixteen students from the college have had to leave it, for fear of sexual abuse from the authorities.
Thirteen of the institute’s students from Mumbai and three from Nagpur decided to exit yesterday, when the chairperson of the college, Aditi Sarda, allegedly threatened six girl students on Tuesday that she would see to it that they are sexually abused. The students and their parents approached the police and district collector the next day, but in vain.
Girls locked up
The incident occurred in the girls’ hostel, after the students started a signature campaign demanding an improvement in the college infrastructure. “This got the chairperson’s danders up. She stormed into the girls’ hostel with two male professors and made a statement in front of them that she would make us sleep with them one by one.
“Then she had us locked up in some quarters. We were shocked and frightened. I called up my father who came the next day to take me away,” a first-year student Ruhi Bhawsar (name changed) said.
The 16 students have come down to Mumbai to meet the secretary of medical education and drugs department, IS Chahal to submit their complaints. They are demanding for a transfer to other colleges, as “we fear the apathetic, begrudging management would ruin our career”. It doesn’t help that many students have taken a loan to pay the college fee.
“There are supposed to be two lectures in the college for the 100-odd first-year students, and even they are not held regularly. When we sit for lectures, if at all they happen, lights and fans are kept switched off as per Sarda’s orders. Despite paying a fee of Rs 2.74 lakh, we have been asked to pay the electricity bill, which is ridiculous,” said another student.
Said another girl who was threatened, “For anatomy practicals, they have given us a decaying cadaver, which looks more like a skeleton. Most colleges arrange for at least four bodies every year. Our college does not have proper preservation facilities.” She continued, “We kept quiet for three months, thinking the management would make some effort to help the situation. When none of our concerns were addressed, we resorted to a signature campaign, which angered our chairman. She threatened us she would spoil our character but the cops did not take any cognisance. We want a transfer.”
‘Awaiting gang rape?’
Ganpat Bhowad, parent of a student, said, “It was terrifying to know that my daughter was locked in some quarters. Sarda has threatened that she would force these students to sleep with professors. How can my daughter be safe in such a college? Is Maharashtra waiting for a gangrape like the one that shook up Delhi?”
Sarangdhar Kadam, another father who brought his daughter back from the college, said, “It is shameful that the chairperson made such a statement to our girls. On top of that, the police have not taken any strict action. Do we pay such a huge fee, after taking loans, to hear such threats? We are devastated that neither the Beed collector nor the police have noted our complaint.”
The other side
Aditi Sarda, chairman of Aditya Dental College, Beed said, “All the allegations made against me are baseless. One of the students, a class representative, took signatures of students to present the complaint and students were not aware of it. Only three students have put forward the complaint against the existing facilities. There are 92 lecturers in the college, with a dean, principal etc. Out of 100 students, only three who are from Mumbai were absent today.”