Chandigarh: Hundreds of medical students protesting at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak were “forcibly removed” from the site by the state police in a midnight operation Friday.
The students were protesting against the Haryana government policy which requires them to sign a bond agreeing to serve in a government hospital in the state for a certain period after the completion of their course or else forfeit a bond amount of approximately 40 lakhs. Their forced removal has made the Manohar Lal Khattar-led NDA government in Haryana the target of severed opposition criticism.
Parents of the protesting students have alleged that the students were water cannoned and beaten up, even though they were protesting peacefully.
MBBS Students arrested,harassed and brutally dragged by police!
No female constable to arrest female students!#BOND_FREE_INDIA??
This is totally violation of "Right To Equality" Only Doctors are being forced to work as #BondedLabour! @cmohry @anilvijminister pic.twitter.com/q0WBUrGBkP
— FAIMA Doctors Association (@FAIMA_INDIA_) November 4, 2022
Action against the students was taken at night in order to clear the area outside the college auditorium, where Chief Minister Khattar was to arrive to attend the annual college convocation Saturday, said senior officers in Rohtak police.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Rohtak, Udai Singh told ThePrint that when the protesting students came to know about the chief minister’s visit to the convocation they shifted their protest site from the college grounds to the auditorium, which could have led to a hindrance in the movement of the Chief Minister. “We had no option but to remove them from there,” said Singh.
He added that a delegation of the protesting students met the Chief Minister during the convocation Saturday. “We are still not sure whether the students have called off the protest or not following the meeting,” he said.
The police action against the students has, however, invited criticism against the government, with former Chief Minister and leader of opposition, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, tweeting against it.
हरियाणा में लाठी, वाटर कैनन, आँसू गैस बरसाने वाली सरकार!
किसान, छात्र, कर्मचारी, छोटे व्यापारी हर वर्ग पर अत्याचार करने में माहिर BJP-JJP सरकार ने जुल्म-जबरदस्ती की सारी सीमाएं पार कर ली हैं।
बॉन्ड पॉलिसी के खिलाफ आवाज उठा रहे MBBS छात्र-छात्राओं पर पुलिसिया जुल्म निंदनीय है। pic.twitter.com/Kl90g53Np3
— Bhupinder S Hooda (@BhupinderShooda) November 5, 2022
The protesting students have also reportedly received the support of several medical students’ bodies from across the country on social media, with demands being made of a “bond free Bharat”.
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Videos of Friday night’s incident, shot on mobile phones and being circulated on social media, appear to show the students being physically dragged by police personnel and made to sit in vans. The students appear to be sitting with folded hands even as men and women cops lifted the students after using water cannons on them.
This is what happened in PGIMS Rohtak with MBBS students, during their peaceful protest
Shame on haryana govt pic.twitter.com/8BbY1mkwcD
— Kapil Dhull (@Dr__Dhull) November 5, 2022
“The students have been taken to police stations in Rohtak and Bhiwani and they are yet to be let off,” claimed Arun Yadav, parent of one of the students, while talking to ThePrint.
Yadav added: “We are now rushing to Rohtak to know about the whereabouts of our daughter. We have not been able to contact the students because the police have probably taken their mobile phones away. The students told us last night (Friday) that they were being removed from the protest site because the chief minister has to visit today (Saturday) and the administration wanted to show him that all is well.”
According to SSP Singh the students had been protesting in the college grounds for the past few days, but shifted their venue to the auditorium after hearing of the CM’s upcoming visit.
“Last evening (Friday) they shifted their protest to outside the college auditorium where the convocation was to take place today (Saturday) and the Chief Minister was to preside,” said Singh.
He added: “Our teams, as also the teams of the medical college administration, requested the students to continue with their protest at their original protest site so that there is no hindrance to the movement of the Chief Minister to the auditorium. But they did not agree. I agree that they were protesting peacefully. We had no option, but to forcibly remove them. Today a delegation of these students have also met the chief minister.”
Singh further said that the detained students will be let off after completing necessary paperwork.
“Once the paperwork is done they will be let off. They have not faced any harassment in the police station, all due processes of law are being followed,” he claimed.
An FIR under sections 147/149/186/332/353/427 of the IPC has been lodged against the student leaders. These sections deal with rioting, damaging property, unlawful gathering and obstructing public servants from doing their job and attacking public servants.
The students are protesting against the “bond policy” of the Haryana government, under which medical students in government medical colleges across Haryana have to pay a bond amount of approximately 40 lakh, along with an affidavit to the state that they will undertake government jobs at the end of their course.
The bond policy of the government states that the amount will be returned to the students once the student joins a government job. However in case a student fails to join a government job, the bond money will be forfeited.
The bond policy of the government, announced in November 2020, a copy of which is available on its official website, states that while the fees for the four-and-half-year course amounts to Rs 3.71 lakh, the bond amount will be around Rs 36.28 lakh.
When the student protest began early this week, Khattar clarified through a press statement that the bond policy was aimed at encouraging doctors to opt for government service after completing MBBS.
Following an official meeting Wednesday to discuss the protest, the CM announced that students will not have to pay any bond money, but only sign a bond-cum-loan agreement of the amount with the college and a bank.
“If the MBBS/MD pass-out students wish to join the service of the state government and serve for a specified period of seven years, then the state government will finance the bond amount. At the same time, candidates who do not want to join the government service in Haryana will have to pay the loan amount themselves,” said the CM.
Additionally, the respective bachelor’s degrees of such students will be issued only after the candidates have met all the financial liabilities. The government has taken this step so that after doing MBBS, students can give their services in government hospitals and serve the people of the state, added the CM.
“Signing a loan agreement with the bank amounts to taking a loan from the bank. In case we are not able to pay up the amount, we will be the defaulters not the government. What if the government is not even able to provide us a job after the students pass out? What about the loan in that case?” questioned Yadav.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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