An Open Letter to the Authorities of NIT Calicut

The following is an open letter written by a group of students of NIT Calicut, to the administration, following a mishappening occurred in the campus on February 15, 2014, leading to losing a student’s life. The same has already been published on the Facebook page of Students’ Affairs Council of NITC, and in some dailies under the author name ‘Samyuktha‘. Copying the same as is for its relevance.

Note: Opinions are of the authors of this write-up.

Wall Collapsed at NIT Calicut on 15 February 2014

Wall Collapsed at NIT Calicut on 15 February 2014

Respected Sir

It is with utter disappointment that we the students of NIT Calicut are addressing this letter to you with the hope that your esteemed newspaper shall be our voice in our fight against the unfair practices of the administration at the National Institute of Technology Calicut.

The subject of this letter is regarding the incident of death of a student at NIT Calicut which occurred due to the collapse of a poorly constructed and ill maintained civil structure in the sports area of the Institute on February 15, 2014.

What we see here is not merely ineptness from the part of the administration but an act of criminal negligence which can in no imaginable circumstance be forgiven . What this incident also brings to light is desperation in the institute authorities to escape the consequences of their negligence, by deviating the issue of the underlying incompetence of management behind the accident into that of an isolated mishap.

The collapse of this particular wall is only the surface of the problem ,with many such buildings standing in existence that have officially expired their age and should have been destructed as many as five years ago per regulation. Considering the circumstances and density of the student population at NITC, it is only a matter of time before such an incident repeats itself.

The question we the students want answered first is, Say a building collapses tomorrow, who is to be held responsible? It is a shame on the part of the authorities who claim they have everything under control when they cannot even guarantee us safety in our own institute.

We hope you will find it reasonable to provide an exclusive cover to this Letter Describing the Unfolding of the Events as they actually occurred in the editorial page of your esteemed daily. The addresser of this letter, the Disturbed student of NITC is hopeful of receiving your help in bringing out the truth behind the mishap.

It is indeed regrettable that this is not the first incident of a fatal accident involving a student in this Institute and there is a good chance it will not be the last, lest our voice go unheard. The sloth and negligence in the response of the Institution in the case of the near fatal accident concerning another student last year is evidence to this.

In a nutshell Sumit Sagar, a 2nd year B.Tech student at the time of the incident fell from his bicycle at a hillside road turn in the campus last year. The road lacked boundaries, markers or basic safety measures of any sort at the time of the incident.

As a result of falling into the 10 -12 foot drop, he broke his spine. It is unfortunate that not only was Sumit who comes from a family of limited means refused any official financial assistance despite repeated requests from a large group of students on his behalf, the institute also refused to take any liability of the accident. Sumit got a year backlog in his academics as a result of his incident. He is struggling to recover both physically and emotionally from the trauma even today.

After the accident, despite several requests to the authorities by the students to at least take necessary precautionary measures so as to prevent any such accident in the future, No action has been taken by the authorities of the institute in this direction till date. That hilly roadside remains exactly the same way, even today.

As if this was not enough, the incident that took place yesterday has exposed to us students that the administration of this college is truly incapable of change.

Our heads are hung in shame to report to you the irresponsible, immoral and negligent actions of the authorities concerned regarding the sad incident yesterday.

On the occurrence of the incident, not only did the authorities not respond on time but there were attempts to dissuade the whole issue as an unforeseeable accident using false allegations and excuses, while in reality it is a clear case of negligence on the part of the authorities amounting to murder without intention.

A shameful attempt was made to cover up the entire incident when an authority of the institute quoted in an esteemed newspaper(Deccan Chronicle dated February 16th,Sunday) that no previous complaints had been made regarding the safety issue concerning the wall that collapsed. While the fact is that not only students, but a group of senior faculty membersincluding Dr. Allesu Kanjarithinkal, Dr. K Prabhakaran Nair, Dr. Biju T Kuzhiveli,and Dr. S Jayaraj had repeatedly complained to the administration and urged them to take necessary action regarding the safety facilities in the sports area.

Following is the statement of a professor of our institute who is a frequent visitor to the premises where the incident occurred.

“I have personally complained many times over the past 3 YEARS regarding the dangerous condition of that particular wall that collapsed and caused the unfortunate death of the student. Despite my attempts, no concrete steps had been taken. The last time I informed the authorities regarding the gravity of the situation was only three weeks back.”

After the incident occurred, when a large crowd of almost a thousand angry protesting students gathered in front of the Directors Bungalow, an emergency meeting organized by authorities of the institute came up with a measly compensation to appease the angry crowd. The suggested measures in this document included a proposal to arrange for a temporary ambulance service for cases of immediate concern. A talk to negotiate the compensation to be offered to the family of the deceased is scheduled for the next day. It has been suggested that the persons responsible for the incident are to face suspension until the case is closed. The Authority named responsible is at the age of retirement and is already facing multiple impending investigations, effectively making him a perfect scapegoat.

The nature of this futile attempt to appease the friends and family of the deceased instead of taking concrete reconstructive steps serves an example for the sort of policy and administrative paralysis that has taken its hold over the entire institute.

This insult served to us, the students of NIT Calicut, in the face of our injury has only deepened our resolve to raise our voice against the this lack of basic human capacity, moral decency and responsibility of the authorities of this institute.

After much deliberation we have arrived at a clear set of demands which must be met without fail by the authorities of the institution before day to day functioning of the Institute can be resumed.

These demands are Non-Negotiable and Non-Retractable, and we the students resolve to not permit day to day functioning of the institute continue smoothly until our demands are met with, Unconditionally. We demand:

  1. The Commissioning of the contract of A Medical Facility within a fortnight be set up within the Institute premises. Said Facility should be apt for handling all cases of exigency, must be set up within specified period of time.(DATE)
  2. Compensation that is being offered to the parents of the deceased student will be decided in a transparent public meeting
  3. An Empowered Internal Committee be set up for Survey and Regulation of the civil structures of NITC. Said committee shall be fully responsible for any problems relating to the safety of all civil structures in the institute. The terms of formation of said committee be laid within a week
  4. Full Scale criminal Investigation of the concerned authorities whose negligence resulted into the unfortunate death which should name the guilty in no more than a month’s time. Prompt termination of service of all Authorities found responsible on grounds negligence and irresponsibility.
  5. An interaction with the director and his deans with the students must be held in public once every month henceforth without fail to discuss the grievances of students.

We the students at NITC know that we are well within our rights to demand good administration in an Institute of National Importance. We are united in our demand, and have solemnly resolved to not be dissuaded from our purpose come what may.

It is with this note that we address the concerned Authorities of the Institute respond to our demands promptly with a statement in written within a specified period of time(DATE).

Through this letter we are giving you, the reader only a glimpse of the pathetic condition of the student welfare at NITC. We have high hopes that the community of informed citizens will aid us in our attempt to root out bad Administration from one of the premiere technical Institutes of the country .

We are determined in our decision to pursue this case with a Human Rights Bench, should our grievances not be addressed at the soonest (DATE).

Our voice has gone unheard time and again for over a decade at NITC. We have had enough.

We have promised ourselves, THIS TIME it WILL NOT go unheard.

Yours faithfully
The Students Affair Council and the whole student fraternity
National Institute of Technology Calicut
On behalf of the Disturbed Student of NITC