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Regional Engineering College, Rourkela

Letter from REC Students

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This email was originally sent by Students of REC, Rourkela. It describes the unfortunate incidents that led to Police firing on 18 September 1998. (Other related news)

Subject: [Fwd: Deaths and Misdemeanors]
Anustup Nayak <anustup@hotmail.com> wrote:

Dear All

The story does not start with the death of Sougat Malla. Off and on the students had taken out rallies to the principal's residence to appeal for improving the basic amenities - as you all must have done during your period out here. The institute has had previous case history of jaundice, malaria, etc., the prime reason being poor quality of water being fed to them. A sub standard treatment plant cannot provide them with portable water. The sanitation facilities are even worse. It has repeatedly been pointed out to the authorities over the years who have done little towards it. The reticence of the authoritity had only piled up the frustration in the students over the years.

REC, Rourkela being one of the prestigious institution in the country little of note has been done by the govt. of the state or national govt with regards to sanitation,medical or drinking water problems. With the dispensary ineffective, the ISPAT GENERAL HOSPITAL cares little for the students of REC. The attack on the casualty ward of IGH was therefore a vent for years of neglect. Though such an act was a sign of immaturity, but the truth is that perpetual deaths due to wrong diagnosis can only evoke such emotions.

The principal, the hostel warden were not competent enough to deal with the irate students who were demanding an explanation of the unexpected death of Sougat Malla. A demand of Rs 400 to the college authorities for arranging a truck to carry his body was turned down and the warden was not willing to help carry his body in the college car. His query -- "HOW WILL I GO HOME IF I HAND OVER THE CAR TO CARRY HIS BODY?"

What reaction could have justified such a remark? The principal did not even participate in the cremation of Sougat Malla. Surely he was the child of this college. WASN'T HE? Malla was in fact academically very brilliant and very lovable. We could not even think of his sudden loss. He was the only son of his father who had lost 3 of his sons earlier. His father has gone mad. He is a proffesor and head of the psychology department in the north-eastern hill university of Meghalaya state. Some moment now he laughs and the other moment he is sobbing. The loss is......

After his cremation the students staged a rally this time to demand for basic amenities and to wake the principal from his lethargy. The principal fearing the students had arranged for his safety by informing the police. The principal never came out to meet the students' representatives so irate students set ablaze the dispensary in frustration - it was dysfunctional anyway! The students then proceeded towards the principals residence for the second time. The policeman gathered there thought otherwise and opened fire. None of these students could ever envisage a police firing. So there was utter chaos and stampede were more than 31 students were injured.

G. K. Sujit, IIIrd yr student from Kerala, intercepted a bullet in his thigh. Before he could be moved to the hospital he was stalled in the college canteen for some time. The auto carrying him was stopped by the police so students tried to rush him in a moped which broke down. He died on the way due to profuse bleeding.

We do not know what the press, the politicians,the judicial committee make of all these that happened. We do not want to be mauled by the agencies of bureaucracy. We have seen the parents of innocent people crying and pleading to the lawyers. 81 of them have been arrested on whom the penal code 307 i.e., attempt to murder has been slapped. Most of these students were caught sleeping in their rooms and beaten brutally by the police.

The major slap on the face of the students community has been the announcement of the state govt. to dole out Rs. 50000/- for the deceased. This money has been equated to a lifetime of an engineer, the only son of his father and a good friend of ours. As the case takes twists and turns the sole sufferers in future will be us - the students who had all the right to get angry for the callousness shown by the college authorities.

We plead to Ex - Rengcolians all over the world to help give this college a proper machinery by airing of views at all responsible forums. We do not understand judicial matters, norms and rules. We want to be happy once more. Help us revive that time.

We intend to form a forum to which all donations can be made as a consolation to the parents of the deceased. We cannot compensate for death but we intend to slap the state govt. for its pittance of Rs. 50000/-.

Students of REC, Rourkela


Last Updated: 4 Oct 1998

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Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 by Sunil Kumar Mishra.