Days after student dies of 'food poisoning', nothing has changed at IIIT Basar

Every time Sanjay fell sick, he would come home, get better, and return to college healthy. But he'd come back sick again. Sanjay went home sick at least five times in 2022.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  29 July 2022 1:06 PM GMT
Days after student dies of food poisoning, nothing has changed at IIIT Basar

Hyderabad: S Sanjay Kiran (19), a student of Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT) also known as IIIT, Basar, died in the ambulance on 25 July 2022. He was being shifted from Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, to another hospital. His father has publicly alleged that the university mess food played a critical role in his son's death.

Sanjay, a resident of Elugur village in Sangem district of Warangal (rural), fell seriously ill and was admitted to Yashoda Hospital around 15 days ago. "The doctors informed us that he has SLE disease. They told us that the disease had already spread and that it was in its peak stage," said Uday, Sanjay's brother.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus. SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. It can affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels.

"After almost six days of treatment, doctors gave up on my brother. It was implied that he wouldn't be able to survive," said Uday and added, "We don't have written proof that the bad hostel food killed my brother. It may or may not be so. My father, however, believes it is."

Uday continued, "He (Sanjay) always complained about the college food. He said it wasn't good. My brother wasn't a picky eater but he always complained about the bad, tasteless food."

Uday said his brother was healthy before going to college and whenever he used to come home.

Sanjay's family spent nearly Rs. 16 lakhs for his treatment. Sanjay, a second-year PUC student, often fell sick when he was at IIIT Basar. On 20 December 2021, he had a severe stomach ache and was taken to the campus hospital; some tests were also done outside.

"His red blood cells and white blood cells count were low. He stayed at home for around 10 days, recovered, and went back in early January 2022," said Uday.

Sanjay fell ill again in mid-February 2022. The saline treatment at the campus hospital didn't help, so he went home again.

Every time Sanjay fell sick, he would come home, get better, and return to college healthy. But he'd come back sick again. Sanjay went home sick at least five times in 2022.

Mass food poisoning on campus

On 15 July, thousands of students of IIIT Basar fell sick after eating the fried rice provided by the mess in the afternoon.

"The college administration took Rs. 700 at the time of admission for health insurance. Which company's scheme did they pay for? Where is the money that was paid towards insurance?" asked Rajeshwari, the president of the Parent's Committee at RGUKT.

It should be noted that no insurance card has been provided to students.

No change in food quality despite FSSAI visit

"They say 'Something is better than nothing.' That's how all IIIT Basar students adjust to the low-quality, tasteless mess food," said Gurram Harshavardhan Netha, a student of IIIT Basar.

He added, "The food only tastes good when a special guest visits the campus. The ingredients used are of poor quality. The tender contract says first grade ingredients should be used, but sadly, this never happens. Not even suggested brands are used. Food inspectors were shocked after seeing the products being used here."

A team from FSSAI visited the campus for a food inspection on 16 July. Despite this, the students say that the food quality or taste hasn't improved.

On 14 June, the students of IIIT Basar launched a protest raising 12 demands, including providing good quality food, improving the faculty-student ratio, better facilities, appointing a permanent Vice-Chancellor, and good teaching staff.

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