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Nursing Students face Caste Based Discrimination


‘During my viva, they asked me if I had a boyfriend’
(From left) Ribka Pratap, Hiral Bhanudas and Ankita Suhas
Three professors at RN Cooper Medical College accused of caste-based discrimination.

The dean of Dr RN Cooper Municipal Medical College in Juhu on Monday ordered a probe after three students of nursing filed a complaint to the Maharashtra Nursing Council alleging that they were facing caste-based discrimination from three professors. According to the three third-year students, professors Prachi Desai, Suchita Henry and Elsa Parakal had been harassing them since August last year.

“They would always pass comments about our family background. One of the teachers, Desai, would tell us that we come from lowly families and didn’t deserve to study here,” said Hiral Bhanudas, one of the students.

Bhanudas, Ankita Suhas and Ribka Pratap took admission in the nursing course under the Scheduled Caste category. The students also alleged that the teachers would ask them personal questions during their viva voce sessions. “They would not ask me any questions pertaining to the course. During my viva, they asked me if I had a boyfriend and other irrelevant questions,” said Suhas.

The students alleged that the teachers would abuse them and pass casteist remarks. “They would say that we get free educations and jobs easily since we’re Adivasis. How is it our fault,” asked Bhanudas.

The students decided to complain to the nursing council on June 22 after the teachers told them that they were not fit to appear in the final examinations that begin July 1, and wouldn’t be allowed to do so. “They called our parents and told them that we wouldn’t be allowed to sit in the exam,” said Bhanudas. “We have completed the assignments and have attended classes. How can they then not allow us to sit in the exam?”

Following the students’ complaint, the dean of the college, Ramesh Chaturvedi, intervened. “I came to know about the matter on Monday afternoon and we have allowed the students to sit for the exams,” Chaturvedi said. “We have constituted a two-member committee to probe into the matter.”

Despite repeated attempts, the three professors could not be reached for comment.

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