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Assam University's dictatorship? Female asked to breach isolation norms; two more students positive

For the most part of 2020, we lived in containment zones, we were placed “under quarantine”. The Asha workers got rewarded and recognised as they “risked their lives” by entering containment zones to provide ration to the people living in those zones. Areas were demarcated and ‘Laksham Rekhas’ (sacrosanct lines) were drawn. You cross them and society looked at you as criminals. The officers in the Administrative buildings threatened to lodge FIRs if the “home isolation” norms were breached. When all that was happening, the country reported around 50,000 cases a day. In the last 24 hours, the nation saw the number go up by more than 2 lakhs.

Today, a student of Law in Silchar called up the controller of examination, Suprabir Dutta Roy, and reported that her husband tested positive for COVID19. Both of them, like any other married couple, were living together in the same house. The doctor she consulted, prescribed them “strict home isolation” for the next 14 days. Forget home isolation, she has her odd semester examination tomorrow and thus she called the controller for suggestions. He said, “You are negative, go and take your test.”

The female student was polite throughout the conversation and he kept raising his voice. Like the great dictator, he ended the conversation by saying, “If you wish to sit for the exam sit or else do whatever you want to do,” shouting as high as he could. So, here is a central government employee asking the wife of a COVID positive man to step out of her house, use public transport and reach the examination centre, take the test and go back using the same mode of transportation.

Can a central government employee ask someone to breach the “home isolation norms”? If she can step out of her home tomorrow, just a day after her husband tested positive for COVID 19, why on earth did the same administration seal societies, shops afters shops, hospitals, a year back? Were they joking back then or are they joking now? Thousands of people lost their jobs, got pushed below the poverty line as establishments were asked to remain shut each time someone tested positive in any of them.

Assam University has maintained that when everything is open, including Mall, Mela, and “Khela” (that is the elections), how can the varsity conduct the examinations online. Well, then explain how can the student reach the examination hall by breaching the COVID protocols.

While in the case of the Law student, her husband tested positive, in Karimganj, the scenario is different. A pass-course student of Karimganj College has tested positive today. His father was diagnosed with the infection yesterday. His examination is starting on April 22. How will he appear for the examination? When he asked this to the principal, the principal asked him to stay at home.

Speaking with Barak Bulletin, the principal of Karimganj College Ramanuj Chakraborty said, “I have submitted a report to the Assam University, through the Deputy Commissioner’s office and will wait for them to write back to us with suggestions,” said Chakraborty.

Yesterday, when the GC College student tested positive, Barak Bulletin’s correspondent reached out to the controller of examination Suprabir Dutta Roy and he said, “The colleges will have to arrange for an isolation facility, where the students can sit and take their tests. Just as it happens in the case of Pox!”

If the Coronavirus outbreak could have been handled as pox, why did the district administration spend crores in arranging quarantine centres? It is something that only the administration can answer and need to answer. After all, the crores that were spent for the quarantine centres were funded by the parents of these students who are sitting for examinations now.

By the time the report was filed, The Assam University Authority, according to the principal of Karimganj College, has conducted a meeting today and decided, students with valid COVID positive reports need not sit for the examination. Special arrangements will be done for them so that their academic career is not hampered.

So far, a student of GC College, a student of NC Paul Memorial College, a student of Karimganj College and a teacher on examination duty have tested positive for the virus. The number is rising but the University is adamant that the examinations will be conducted offline. Again, the ‘Mall’, ‘Mela’, ‘Khela’ logic. However, Mall, Mela, Khela are all optional while the examination is mandatory.

So, it all boils down to a few simple questions – why is the Assam University, that conducted online tests last semester is so hell-bent on not doing it this term? Why is the authority – the most educated lot, putting the lives of the students at risk? Is it because the central University lacks the technology to conduct online examinations? Are they putting the lives of students at risk to hide their shortcomings? And should the ‘Neta’, ‘Mantri’ just play the role of cheerleaders when their wards’ lives are played with?

A year and a few days back, Karimganj’s Mufti Jamal Uddin had tested positive for COVID19. He became the first person to test positive for the virus in Assam. His entire family was asked to sit on an ambulance and all of them were put under hospital isolation. A year later, when there are more than 150 active cases in Cachar and more than 250 in Barak Valley. the Assam University’s controller of examination is saying, “If your husband is positive, how can I give any exemption to you? You can go to the examination centre and take your test.”

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