23 September 2007
At least three daily-wage workers died on the IIT-Kanpur campus recently--a fact that the premier institute's authorities tried to hush up. That is what social activist and Magsaysay award-winner Sandeep Pandey, national convenor, National Alliance of People's Movements, says.
All the deaths, he said, could have been avoided had the IIT provided better living conditions for the labourers on the campus.Activists alleged that IIT-Kanpur's director had banned staff and students from speaking to the media about the alleged deaths.
Pandey, who is also a former IIT faculty, said 12-year-old Rohit died on August 26 2006 after being bitten by a snake on the campus. Rohit was reportedly denied life-saving medical intervention at the institute's hospital. The activist said one Udayvir Yadav, 24, died of electric shock four days later.
Again the authorities allegedly tried hushing up the matter.Pandey said another person--Mohammad Rustam, resident of Malda, West Bengal, aged between 50-55 years--died on 26 July 2007 due to snake bite. He alleged the IIT director tried his best to silence the news.Rustam worked at the core lab construction site near Wind Tunnel and SIDBI Centre on the campus.
His body was allegedly sent out of the campus in a tractor and buried in a graveyard near a mosque in Naramau."Like the IIT director, some IIT professors, too, feel indignant that the stories of deaths have been revealed to the outside world. They are not concerned about the families of the dead or the working conditions of the workers. The insensitive attitude of the IIT community and the shoddy manner in which they dealt with such issues should be condemned," said Pandey, who won the Magsaysay Award for emergent leadership in 2002.
Activists now want the staff at the IIT medical centre to be punished for not delivering timely medical aid for Rahul. Besides, the deceased's kin must be immediately compensated, they demanded.