Published: 01st January 2021
Parents of UoH scholar who allegedly died due to ‘medical negligence’ demand admin conduct investigation
The scholar’s father, Ramavadh has written to the Vice Chancellor with a list of demands which includes a reimbursement of all the medical expenses incurred during Bharati’s treatment
On August 17, PhD scholar Surya Pratap Bharati was found unconscious on his floor in his hostel room in the University of Hyderabad. When other students on campus took him to the hospital, the doctors immediately took a rapid COVID test and he tested negative. He was then taken for an MRI scan and the doctors said that he would need surgery within 24 hours since he had suffered from an ischemic stroke. However, when the following test turned out positive, the hospital refused treatment since it wasn’t a COVID centre. They insisted on a PCR test but didn’t take his samples until the next day. Till it was too late. Since he was kept in isolation, Bharati’s friends have no idea if he was given any treatment at all. On August 19, the scholar died. In all the three COVID tests taken later, Bharati tested negative.
Four days ago, the Dalit scholar’s parents came to the campus to collect his belongings from his room. His parents, both daily wage earners, had no way to pay the high hospital fees. It was the Students’ Union that raised funds for the scholar. The Union also protested claiming that medical negligence had taken place in the scholar’s case. But the parents were not just there to collect their son’s things but to also ask the administration why this had happened to their son. However, Bharati's friends said that his parents were ill-treated from the time they reached the gates. “We had emailed the administration and told them that the parents will be arriving and that they would need food and lodging. We were promised by the chief warden that everything would be provided. But the parents had to wait four hours before they were given a guest room.”
Bharati's friend and guardian, Vishal Kumar said that the parents were supposed to meet the Pro VC, “He said that he would respond after 24 hours but the response that came was very vague. So his parents wanted to meet the VC and so they did a sit-in protest in front of the administration block. After a while the VC gave them an appointment but again there was no concrete response, so the parents continued their dharna. On December 31, the chief security officer told the parents that their protest was illegal. They felt very humiliated the whole time. Just because they come from a poor background and speak only Bhojpuri, they were treated badly,” Vishal said.
The scholar’s father, Ramavadh has written to the Vice-Chancellor with a list of demands. These demands include a reimbursement of all the medical expenses incurred during his son’s medical treatment, a compensation of Rs 25 lakhs for the family and for all the funds allocated for the annual fest ‘Sukoon’ to be directed to the family. The family has also demanded that policy changes be made - an inquiry committee to look into their son’s death and that an insurance policy be drafted in a manner to cover every single bonafide student at the university without any exceptions in form of a year of research or any such. Taking into consideration their own son’s case, the family demanded that the primary health care centre be changed into a secondary health care centre so that students can receive a wider range of treatments hassle free at the University campus itself.
The family also asked the VC to take a direct, substantial, responsible involvement in the ongoing battle against the hospital administration financially and otherwise. They also demanded a strict action against the medical officer present at the Health Care centre. WIth regard to Bharati, the parents demanded that he be awarded his PhD since he was on the verge of submitting it and for his books to be kept in the departmental library with commemorative plaque.
The scholar’s friends and family are demanding answers and want the University to give the family compensation. “We were told that his death was natural and that these things happen. But when we persisted, the administration told us that they would put together a committee with the Dean of Humanities in charge to look into the matter and take a decision in two months,” Vishal said. But Vishal said that they had not been given anything in written yet. However, the parents have refused to take back Bharati’s things until the committee comes to its decision.
“We are very upset with the way the parents were treated. After a point, people in the administration refused to pick up calls and kept ignoring us. So the parents refused to take his things, they want to ensure the committee is formed properly and a proper decision is taken,” Vishal said.