Published: 02nd March 2021
Seven months on, family of UoH student who died of medical negligence upset that varsity didn't conduct an investigation
Two months ago, after the family did a sit-in protest to demand an inquiry into his death, and the administration promised to constitute a committee to look into the matter
Seven months after a University of Hyderabad student died, allegedly because of medical mismanagement, his family is enraged that the university has not kept its promise of conducting an impartial investigation.
On August 19, 2020, a PhD student from the University of Hyderabad died after his treatment for an ischemic stroke was delayed due to a wrong COVID-19 test. He was required to undergo immediate surgery, however, he had to take a COVID test first. The student, Surya Pratap Bharati, first tested negative and then tested positive within a span of 24 hours. Since the hospital he was admitted to didn’t have permission to treat him for COVID, he was left in isolation and critical treatment was delayed, allegedly resulting in his death. In his final test, Surya tested negative for COVID which is why his friends and family have claimed that his death was caused by medical negligence.
Two months ago, after the family staged a sit-in protest to demand an enquiry into his death, the administration promised to constitute a committee to look into the matter and decided on the actions to be taken.
Ever since his death, his family has demanded that an investigation be conducted into the cause and for the family to be paid a compensation. Surya was a first generation scholar from a Dalit family and his sudden death had left his daily-wage earning family struggling emotionally and financially. The scholar had submitted the draft of his thesis just a couple of days prior to his stroke. Two months ago, his parents arrived at the campus to collect his belongings and also ask the University to tell them why their son had died so suddenly.
However, friends of the scholar had said that his parents weren’t immediately allowed inside the campus and that they were not treated well by the administration. The parents did a sit-in demonstration to demand a meeting with the University authorities. Finally, the administration had agreed to put together a committee to look into the matter and come up with a decision within two months.
The scholar’s friends said that the family only called off their demonstration after the Registrar assured them that a committee would be formed under the chairpersonship of Prof Sarat Jyothsna Rani, Dean, School of Humanities to look into the demands of the family. “As we began to follow up with the formation of the committee and the subsequent processes, all we received were contradictory and outrageously irresponsible responses from the Dean and the Deputy Registrar, Reservation and Coordination Cell. The absurdity of the situation was so baffling that the supposed chairperson of the committee denied any knowledge of even the existence of such a committee,” one of the deceased scholar’s friends said.
They also said that their demand for student representatives in the committee was denied without any ‘rational explanation’. “When Surya’s family met the Head of Department, PRO VC and the VC, they were constantly assured that the demand for Surya to receive his doctorate posthumously would be discussed in the academic council meeting, but it never came up,” Surya’s well-wishers said. They also urged the student union to take up the cause in the academic council, “We urge all the members of the academic council to ensure that all the promises made to Surya’s family are addressed in the meeting. We urge the student union to incorporate the demand for Surya’s degree and the publication of the report of the committee in their protest call.”