Polio could not fell her, but a medical college did when it refused admission to a young Orissa student, who topped the Scheduled Tribe category in the recently held joint entrance examination.//
Susmita Haro, 18, was denied admission to the VSS Medical College in Burla that certified her as having 87 percent disability -- even though the chief district medical officer of Sambalpur had in May this year examined her and said she has 65 percent disability.
The Sambalpur certificate is well within the limits laid by the Supreme Court, which in a recent directive said a physically handicapped person can get admission in a medical college only if she or he has below 70 percent disability.
The Sambalpur girl was asked to undergo a physical test by the Burla college despite the certificate by the district medical officer R.C. Nanda. The medical board comprised the heads of orthopaedic, surgery and medicine departments as well as Nanda.
Citing 87 percent physical disability, the board refused to give her admission.
Defending the decision, VSS Medical College principal J.K. Balabantaray told IANS: "Since her disability is over what is prescribed by the Supreme Court, we denied her admission.
For Susmita, that decision was a body blow to her dreams and ambitions, carefully nurtured despite her polio.
"Now I have to fight a legal battle against the opinions of doctors. I don't know how many years it will take and whether I will be able to become a doctor or not," she said.
Added her bewildered father, who works in the police department: "I cannot challenge the ability of the doctors who examined my daughter. But I am surprised how her disability could go up, when only two months ago the chief district medical officer certified my daughter as having 65 percent disability."
The man in the centre of the storm was evasive when asked about the conflicting figures.
"Her left leg is affected by polio from childhood and she has already become totally invalid and is unable to move with out a strider," Nanda said sidestepping the issue.
Susmita has always been a bright student.
Last year, she got a first division in her Class 12 examination. She appeared in the medical entrance examination the same year and was 18th in the physically handicapped category and 52nd in the Scheduled Tribe category.
She was not allowed admission then as the Supreme Court case was still pending. And then appeared again in the Joint Entrance Examination and bettered her record, ranking second in the state in the Scheduled Tribe category and seventh amongst the physically handicapped.
Susmita has already lost a year in building what she hoped would be a great career. Sorting out the wrangle over one certificate versus the other could cost her some more time.
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