Months after medical negligence killed Hyderabad university scholar, family awaits justice

Surya was the only college-educated person in his family and was just a few days away from finishing his Ph.D

Hyderabad: Four months have passed since the untimely demise of Surya Pratap Bharati, a Dalit Scholar from HCU, due to faulty diagnosis and severe medical negligence. Surya (30) was a Ph.D. scholar at the Department of English at the University of Hyderabad (UoH).

For the past four days, his family members have been waiting to get a chance to meet the university administration to seek justice for Surya.

On August 17, Surya suffered an acute ischemic stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. He was admitted to the Citizens Hospital, Nallagandla as directed by the University Health Center. He had undergone treatment and his attendants met all the instructions and demands of the hospital.

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On August 18 the hospital conducted a rapid antigen test for Covid 19 where Surya tested negative but 24 hours later, an RTCPR test declared him positive, due to which the hospital denied further treatment. Surya was isolated entirely during this time but one of his attendants managed to check on him and found him having convulsions. Surya’s cognitive functions took a hit and he was placed on a ventilator.

Citizens Hospital charged an outrageously high bill of 1.57 Lakhs as opposed to the earlier bill of 1.12 Lakh. Although Surya was a registered student, they cited his non-enrolment as the reason for the higher billing. After the hospital finally accepted the payment of the earlier agreed amount, Surya was shifted to Continental Hospital. RTCPR tests were conducted two more times followed by an Antibody test, all of which declared Surya negative for Covid 19.

His condition worsened and he developed edemas and multiple organ failures. Surya was declared brain dead at 9:30 AM on August 21 and passed away around 4:11 PM on the same day.

The criminal negligence on part of the Campus Health Centre and Citizens Hospital cost Surya’s life. Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding the insurance policy has not only affected Surya but several students on campus.

Student organizations on campus have been fighting for justice and there hasn’t been a proper response from the administration, alleged Sonal S Narayan, a student activist from All India Students Association and a close friend of Surya. Students also set up fundraisers to help his family.

After four months, Surya’s family is yet to receive justice. The family hails from a Dalit community in rural Uttar Pradesh. Both his parents are daily wage labourers and his brother is a migrant labourer in Mumbai. Surya was the only college-educated person in their family and was just a few days away from finishing his Ph.D.

In an attempt to demand justice, the family has travelled all the way from UP to Hyderabad only to have met with humiliation from the UoH administration.

Mother of Surya waiting outside the administration building of the university, seeking an appointment with VC. (Photo: Special arrangement)

According to the students on campus, they had to struggle to even get proper accommodation in the guest house. Vishal Kumar, a student activist and a friend of Surya, said in a Facebook post that Surya’s mother had fainted due to the “relentless humiliation” by the UoH administration.

“We were worried about him going to a far off place like Hyderabad. But he assured us that he would be fine,” said Surya’s mother in a video shared on Facebook. The family had met with the student activists on campus and urged them to fight for their son.

Since morning (Wednesday, Dec 30), Surya’s family and friends have been looking for an opportunity to meet the Vice-Chancellor of the university. They weren’t allowed inside the administration block and had to sit outside waiting. They say that they were unable to contact key people like the Dean of Students Welfare (DSW) and chief warden via phone and believe that their phone numbers have been blocked.

When contacted by Siasat.com, the spokesperson for the university declined to comment on the issue.

“Surya’s death is more than medical negligence. It is a clear example of caste oppression. The university administration and Citizens hospital are both guilty. We appeal to the Students Union and other student organizations to actively join us in the cause to seek justice for Surya and his family,” said Sonal.

A poster released by Surya’s friends at the university, demanding justice for the scholar.

This isn’t the first time that the Campus Health Centre’s negligence cost a student’s life. Rashmi Ranjan Suna, a Ph.D. scholar of the Physics Department passed away in 2018 after a series of misdiagnoses and inadequate treatment. The Health Centre referred the student to Himagiri Hospital which was already removed from the list of hospitals to refer to, and later to Citizens hospital. Similar to Surya’s case, Rashmi Ranjan was also charged an exorbitant amount of money from Himagiri and Citizens hospitals.

Student activists have put forth a list of demands for the administration including the expansion of healthcare to benefit all students, converting the primary healthcare center to a secondary one, reimbursing the medical expenses of Surya’s treatment, and strict action against the medical officer.

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