Responding to queries on the administration’s refusal to pay the hospital bills of student Ammar Ahmed, the South Asian University, New Delhi, has claimed that a medical report from the hospital in which the student was admitted found marijuana in his urine samples. The insurance claim was found inadmissible, after which, the varsity ceased paying Ammar’s hospital bills, said SAU in a statement.
Ammar Ahmed, a first-year Masters’s student at the university, was rusticated for allegedly participating in large-scale protests that broke out in the varsity in October-November last year, demanding a hike in the scholarship amount for Master’s and PhD courses and active student representation in the varsity’s Internal Complaints Committee. Ammar, who hails from Bihar, was amongst a few other students who were expelled, rusticated or fined for the protests. Stressed and depressed, with his first semester exams due to begin on November 25, Ammar made repeated appeals to the administration, including the Registrar Prof Abhilash to revoke his rustication.
According to a statement by his brother, Izan Ahmad, the student last met with Prof Abhilash on November 21, a day before he collapsed after suffering a seizure. Ammar was then rushed to the hospital, where he suffered a cardiac arrest and was put on ventilator support.
“Ammar was depressed. He had taken a mental health check-up and was prescribed medicines. The university was aware of this. In his last meeting with the registrar, he was told that this is what happens when you protest. We accept the toxicology report that shows traces of marijuana in his urine sample. But he was under extreme stress due to the university’s actions,” Izan tells EdexLive.
Following the toxicology report, Ammar’s insurance claim was deemed inadmissible, after which the university withdrew its undertaking to the hospital that they will pay Ammar’s bills. “We wanted to shift him to AIIMS or a government hospital, but Prof Abhilesh discouraged us from doing that and said that the police will get involved,” Izan claims, adding that the university wants to wash its hands of the issue and not bear accountability for its actions.
Incidentally, Izan also claims that by November 26, Ammar’s health had improved, and the doctors were considering discharging him. On the morning of November 27, however, Prof Abhilesh and Mohanty from the SAU administration paid Ammar a visit. His friends and family claim that after this visit, Ammar suffered another anxiety attack. “The first MRI scan on November 23 revealed no damage to the brain. However, the second scan on December 1, showed that there was swelling in his brain. I personally saw his health worsen after the professors left on November 27,” Izan states.
Ammar is now under home care, with his family having rented a flat in Delhi. He is paralysed, and is being given neurological treatment, his brother informs.
Here’s what student Apoorva YK has to say
After 100 students protested demanding that the varsity handle Ammar’s hospital bills, two more students were expelled and two rusticated. Now, in February, the SAU administration expelled two more students, rusticated two and fined another. One of the expelled students, Apoorva YK, has been protesting in a tent outside the campus ever since she was evicted from her hostel on the night of February 25. She claimed that she had nowhere to go. However, with the university refusing to grant her access to the washrooms, Apoorva, who suffers from underlying conditions, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, March 4, complaining of severe dehydration. Although she returned to her tent last night, she is back in the hospital today to continue intravenous treatment. “I will return in the evening and continue my protest. They want me to submit an apology and a confession. But I have unequivocally maintained that I have done nothing wrong. I am considering going the legal route,” she tells EdexLive.
SAU’s refusal to listen to the demands from the student to raise scholarship stipends and the subsequent protests saw a mention in the last Parliament session, with Minister for Foreign Affairs, S Jaishankar stating that the university was under “severe financial stress” due to some of the countries not making the required payments. When EdexLive enquired about the details of these pending payments from SAU, the administration said that they were “in contact with the concerned countries to recover the dues.”
On the action against the students, including Apoorva, the university said that the decisions were taken on the basis of recommendations of a “High-Powered Committee which had made the said recommendations upon consideration of the evidence on the University’s record of the said students’ indiscipline, the University’s intergovernmental Rules, Regulations and Bye Law and upon observing the fundamental principles of procedure, including the principles of fairness, impartiality and natural justice.”
Amidst the actions constituting “committing acts of indiscipline”, that was informed in a show-cause notice served on one of the students, Amol Shaila Suresh, an MA Economics student on February 13, 2023, is “Attempting to advise the said Administration to be cautious and sensitive to students’ issues.”
“However, no such committee was formed or any show-cause notice served when Ammar was rusticated. They did not follow due process in his case,” claims Izan.