SPPU is protecting culprits, say parents as Murud tragedy completes two years
Allege university shielding teachers who were responsible for picnic wherein 14 students diedpune Updated: Feb 01, 2018 22:44 IST
Parents, relatives and civil society organisations including a political party on Thursday staged a protest against the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and Abeda Inamdar Senior College for Arts, Commerce and Science demanding action over the death of 14 computer science students at Murud in 2016. The students of the college were on a picnic when they drowned after venturing into the rough sea at Murud beach in Raigad district of Maharashtra on February 1, 2016. Six others who were caught in the treacherous waters were rescued by the locals.
Abeda Inamdar Senior College of Arts, Science and Commerce is run by a private trust called the Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society (MCES) which is affiliated to SPPU. After the incident, the university had appointed a fact finding committee to probe the incident but the parents blame MCES office-bearers and the university of shielding teachers and also alleged negligence on the part of college staffers and the principal.
The protestors gathered outside More Mall in Kondhwa and demanded action against college teachers, including university officials and MCES management, alleging that the university was actively involved in aiding the management instead of providing them justice. The parents cited the SPPU fact finding report and stated that the committee clearly revealed violations and indicted college authorities under the University Grants Commission Act.
Abdul Basit Qazi, a father who lost his young daughter Shifa in the tragedy, said, “We have been given false promises by the administration. The administration is shielding the teachers.There was neither an expert doctor nor were the teachers present when the children had entered the sea during the picnic and it is mandatory for them to remain present at the picnic spot according to the UGC norms.”
Shivaji Madhav Salgar, father of 21-year-old Swapnali who too died during the picnic, said, “The university officials responsible for taking action are making us run from pillar to post and have no regard for our personal tragedy. Why are they shying away from acting against all those who were involved in the accident. We met all the senior university officials but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears.” Salgar, however, said that the fight against the Azam Campus administration would be intensified in the coming days.
Shakeela Sayyed, who lost her daughter Farheen (19), alleged that the college authorities had launched a slander campaign to malign the late students blaming them for negligence. “MCES society chairman abused and forced us out of a meeting. However, we are determined to fight against the oppressors,” she added.
Among the others present at the protest were Mohammad Iftekar Ansari, Arti Paan, Shakeela Sayyed, Aqueel Ansari, Shaikh Kamal Basha, MIM leader and president of Maharashtra Wakf Liberation and Protection Task Force Saleem Mulla, Haji Farid Rashid Khan and Association of Protection of Civil Rights Anwar Bagwan. Mulla demanded the university to issue directives to punish all those found to be negligent in their duties while Bagwan said that parents deserved justice and the guilty must be punished in accordance with the law.
MCES society chairman PA Inamdar, said, “We have paid our respect to the departed souls and are with the families of the students we lost in the tragedy. The matter is in the high court and the university cannot take any action till the court gives its decision. It is the high court which will decide whether it is negligence or deliberate . How can we be held responsible as all the students were 18 years and above,” he said.
College acting vice-principal Shahla Bootwala said,“The college has initiated excellence awards in the names of all the 14 deceased students. Today, an award ceremony was organised and 14 toppers of various subjects of computer science were awarded in presence of their parents.Parents of the deceased students were also invited.However, only one parent was present. A bravery award in the name of Iftekar Abbas Ali Shaikh was initiated last year itself. Thus this year, the award was given to a fireman.” The parents retorted that after being kicked out and subjected to humiliation, the college was trying to put salt on their wounds by inviting them to the award function.