Over the last fortnight, there has been a furore in Cuttack as over 300 students at the School of Nursing, SCB Medical College have launched an agitation against their principal Kajal Rani Sinha citing "physical" and "mental abuse", even filing written complaints at the local police station. While the students were demanding removal of the principal from her post, the State Government ordered the college to be shut down sine die and asked students to leave the hostel by the next day. The nursing students also have submitted a memorandum to district Collector N C Mishra asking for help with regard to the matter.
In a video by Video Republic, Subhadra Murmu, one of the students at the institution, recounts instances of caste discrimination faced by her. On May 7, she went to inform her warden that she would be five minutes late in reporting to duty because lunch was served late. At the point, she says, the principal walked and "pulled me by the hair and badly scratched my face and slapped me twice."
Murmu adds, "We have always seen that even if we are five minutes late, they are not considerate, they mark us absent and deduct Rs 50 from our daily stipend. The principal said that, 'we were free to sleep with men' or do whatever after a month when our course would get over. Then she pulled me by hair out of the room and continued abusing me in filthy language.
"She said that 'to pay for meals at the hostel', I should earn money by doing 'sex work'. She said, 'You just eat here and don't pay. You adivasis from Mayurbhanj will remain fools all your life and so will your families. You are lowly people from lowly castes and will always remain so.' Then they marked me absent although I had asked for leave. Not just me, around 30-40 per cent of SC and ST students have been in similar situations."
When the students went to the principal to seek a reason for this behaviour, Murmu says the principal retorted, "I have not done anything and I don't care what you will do about it." According to Murmu, the principal has misbehaved with students on several occasions. "When we go to her for leave, she says, 'Come to me for leave when your parents die.'" Apart from that, she claims the principal has also "threatened to cancel registrations, reduce marks and spoil careers".
As a result of these incidents, outgoing students in the final month of their internships have decided to take a stand to prevent future students from facing such situations. The students told the Press Trust of India, "Respecting the government order, we are vacating the hostels now, but our protests against the principal shall continue until she is removed."