Displaced by Yemen conflict, two final year Indian MBBS students struggle to complete their degree in India

Operation Raahat (Relief), conducted by the Indian government between 3-11 April, 2015 evacuated more than 4640 overseas Indian from Yemen due to the ongoing civil war. Two girls from Darbhanga, Bihar, Manisha Singh and Lucy Gray, pursuing MBBS from Hadramout University of Science and Technology, Yemen along with their father Umesh Singh, working as an English professor at the same university, were among the people who returned to India during the operation. While they managed to avoid the war and escape with their lives, their troubles continued in India.

Since returning from Yemen in 2015, the girls are not getting admission to any government medical college in India to complete their unfinished MBBS course and are losing precious time in their career. The girls are in their last year of MBBS in Yemen. “Once we came back in 2015, we went to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for our migration and in return, it forwarded our case to MCI (Medical Council of India) to consider our matter on sympathetic grounds. However, MCI refused to consider our case repeatedly on the grounds that it is not under the purview of their rules,” said Umesh Singh. Unsatisfied with the response from the MCI, Singh finally knocked on the door of the Delhi High Court on August 2, 2015. The Delhi High Court came up with an order on September 2, 2015 impugning the letter dated June 22, 2015 by MCI, rejecting the request of Manisha and Lucy for migration to any of the government medical colleges in India. The court further stated that even if the rules do not permit migration from a foreign medical college to an Indian government medical college, the MCI has no rights to reject the request merely on the grounds that there is no mention of the same in the rules.

The girls along with their father approached the CM of Bihar Nitish Kumar to grant them seats in any government medical college of the state to complete their MBBS degree. In response to the request, the Bihar government had offered seats to the girls as well. However, they still needed permission from the MCI to complete the process. Through a letter dated April 7, 2016 the Bihar Health Department requested the MCI to grant admission to the two girls in the government medical seats that were lying vacant in the state. “MCI again denied our requests stating there is no law with which the admission can be made,” lamented Singh.

However, this is not the first time that the two have run afoul of the MCI. Their first run-in with the country’s medical regulatory body was in 2011, when they had to travel back to the country because of political unrest in Yemen. Back then too, they were assured by the Indian government that once they get clearance from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, they would be allotted seats by MCI to an Indian government medical college.

The girls had got admission to the MBBS course in Hadramout University as a result of an Indo-Yemen Cultural Exchange between the two countries in 2009. “There were not many Indian students in the MBBS course and initially we felt a little apprehensive. But, we gradually came to terms with the university and started liking the course,” said Manisha while describing her experience in the university. The first jolt to their studies came in the year 2011, when they had to travel back to the country due to political unrest that began in Yemen.

However, in the later part of 2011, the situation in Yemen were stabilised and the girls decided to move back to Yemen. Singh, who was working at the university since 2005 as an English Professor said, “After things get settled in 2011, we decided to shift back so that I can continue with my job and the girls can finish their education. I decided to let the girls study in Yemen as I was already working in the university and could look after them while they complete their course. We had no idea that things will go bad again and we have to return to India once again.”

Stuck between a whirlwind of red-tape and official necessities, the future of the two young girls is presently at stake. Talking to PaGaLGuY, one of the two girls Manisha Singh stated that they are in a situation of utter disappointment. “The government can allow a Pakistani migrant girl to take admission in a medical college, but can’t do anything for the girls who had to forcefully come back from a war-torn country and leave their education in between! We are clueless about what will happen to our future,” said Manisha.

“It’s been one and a half year since we returned to India and we are still waiting for our admission to be completed in any of the government medical college in India. The conflict in Yemen was not our fault, so why do we have to suffer the burden of it,” asked a worried Manisha. Due to their increasing age, it will be tough for the girls to start afresh with a different course as they might not be able to compete in many exams, securing jobs for themselves. The Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear the case again on November 3, 2016. Singh along with his daughters are hopeful about a positive judgment in their favour.