One of the robots broke down midway, sending a part flying into the air and hitting the operator Saquib Shaikh (19), a third year student of Electronics and Telecommunications at Saboo Siddik College, Byculla.
Robowar has been one of the biggest attractions at the Techfest. The lack of safety gear and the open arena erected on a weak wooden base are being blamed for the incident, which involved two robots — Dr Golu and Mojo-jojo — both designed by two teams of Saboo Siddik College.
A student said,“It was not close to any international level arena. Even smaller colleges in the country provide better venues for such competitions.”
An expert said, “While a helmet should be mandatory for operators, arenas must be made of bullet-proof glass and should be covered on top to avoid any such accident, especially because robots weigh 50-60 kg and run at high speeds.”
Saquib’s father, Ahmed Ali Bahadur Shaikh, an employee of Western Railway, has alleged negligence on the part of IIT Bombay. “Not only they were grossly ignorant about the safety measures for such a risky event but they didn’t provide proper treatment to my son. He was discharged and asked to go home after being provided first aid, even though he was bleeding continuously and needed stiches.”
Saquib was rushed to Jagjivan Ram Hospital in Mumbai Central by his friends. However, he was later shifted to BYL Nair hospital as he needed super-speciality care. Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of BYL Nair hospital, said, “He has suffered fractures in his face. We are running a CT scan and other tests and will then take a decision on surgery. He is admitted in our emergency unit. The plastic surgery department is evaluating the extent of injury.”
Shaikh was in the process of lodging a formal complaint with the police at Nair hospital against the organisers of the Techfest at the time of going to press.
Shailesh Sansare (32), an eyewitness to the accident at Techfest, said, “A projectile shot into the air when the two robots were engaged in a fight and hit the young operator on his face with high momentum. He cried out in pain and his face was covered in blood.”
Techfest organiser Divyam Bansal couldn’t be reached. Urjit Yajnik, dean of student affairs at IIT Bombay, said, “I hope he is OK.”
(With inputs from Somita Pal)
Event continued even after accident
While the incident left dozens of participants stunned, several of them complained the acrylic arena was “totally unfit” to handle the robot war. “We never expected IIT Bombay to take such a callous approach towards this issue,” said a participant from Malaysia. They, along with others, refused to play the game after the incident. However, organisers reportedly assured them nothing would happen and continued the game till late evening