EDITORIAL: Probe fairly

The harassment by the college authorities seems to be excessive and unwarranted because they do not have to fear that their dues will not be paid

Not long after the government blacklisted thirty-seven medical and dental colleges in Bangladesh where Nepali students study MBBS and BDS, a 20-year-old Nepal girl, studying in the third year of the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), has committed suicide. Though the college to which she belonged does not fall under the blacklist, the tragic incident raises some questions which need to be tackled to ensure the interests of Nepali students studying in Bangladesh from academic and security points of view. Indeed a lone case of a suicide can happen anywhere, and the reasons could be one or more of the many possible reasons, and it should not necessarily mean that Bangladesh is a dangerous place for Nepali students. But a thorough investigation of the death of Binisha Shah in her hostel room of the Pioneer Dental College and Hospital in Dhaka is required to ensure prevention of future mishaps, particularly because of their harassment by teachers or college authorities. It is difficult at this stage to jump to conclusions about the suicide and raise a finger of guilt at anybody before full results of the investigation come out.

Initial reports from Binisha’s friends there and other sources after her hanging by the ceiling fan on Tuesday suggest that she may have been driven to commit suicide by the behavior of college staff. During an exam on Tuesday, the invigilator told her to get out of the class but later she was allowed to come in. This apparent insult may have led her to leave her exam hall midway and rush to her hostel room to do the unimaginable thing to herself. According to local media reports in Dhaka quoting a college employee, Shah had missed the deadline for paying her tuition fee and the college’s finance department had interrogated her that morning. Her classmates have alleged that the college authorities are responsible for her death as they put excessive pressure on her to pay the tuition without delay. Shah’s classmates have further alleged that the questions for the term exams were made increasingly difficult to drive the students to desperation and make them pay the teachers 50,000 to 70,000 takas for getting a pass.

These reports and allegations should help the Bangladesh police to make full investigation. The harassment by the college authorities seems to be excessive and unwarranted because they do not have to fear that their dues will not be paid. Sooner or later every student will pay the dues otherwise they would be deprived of their certificates. Particularly for students coming from other countries the pressure to pay immediately is unkind, as, for various reasons, there occurs a delay from time to time. Now, it is the duty of the Nepal government to see that the police investigation is brought to a logical conclusion without any outside influence acting on their proceedings and that the guilty are punished. The blacklisting of some three dozen colleges is an action aimed at protecting the interests of Nepali students. Further work needs to be done to see whether any other college is not safe for Nepali students. This kind of monitoring of colleges, followed by appropriate action, should extend to other colleges.

Free health service

More and more people are benefitting from the free health services the government has been providing as per its decision of late. The government has selected 74 health facilities across the country to provide the free health services to poor and impoverished people. The poor people visit the government-run hospitals along with recommendation letters from the concerned officials of the local levels. The people suffering from kidney failure, cancer, spinal and head injuries are among those who are benefitting from the policy recently introduced by the government. The government provides free treatment for kidney failure, cancer, heart diseases, head and spinal injuries, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

While it is appreciable to provide such free health services to the needy people this facility should also be available even in the rural and far-flung areas where most of such cases go unreported. The government and local levels need to launch awareness campaigns about the free health facilities available in most health facilities. The government should also encourage general people to buy health insurance policy to ensure that they get the health services without any hassles.