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Ajay Soyal, New Delhi
'Someone wrote, 'You don't deserve to be here' on my door at AIIMS'
Running between postings in the last lap of his internship, preparing discharge summaries and drawing blood samples from patients, 22-year-old Ajay Soyal is proud of the MBBS degree that will soon be added to his name. With the advantage of brand AIIMS to go with it, he is living the dream of every aspiring medical student in the country.
"I always expected life to change after getting admission in AIIMS, everyone does. But that change can mean different things to different people. This was something I realised when I was barely halfway through my first semester," he says.
Back in 2006, he was part of a batch of 50 select students who had conquered the AIIMS entrance exam. As is the custom in the institute, students can "choose" if they want to be ragged. "Everyone wants to experience the thrill of ragging," says Soyal.
"The first thing seniors ask you is your rank in the entrance exam. In our year, the first 34 ranks were of general category students while the rest was from the reserved category," he says. For Soyal, a Delhi boy from Punjabi Bagh's Sanatan Dharam Saraswati Bal Mandir school, caste was a "mere formality". "It never struck me that caste would be an issue, that I should lie about it. I blurted out my rank and they knew I was from a reserved category," he says.
In the following weeks, pranks were played on him and other students from the reserved category. "Our doors would be locked from outside in the mornings. We would be stuck inside and had to bang our doors for someone to let us out so that we could go to class. We didn't associate it with caste at first. But gradually we realised it was only the students from the reserved categories whose doors were locked," he says.
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