THE CENTRAL University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, has denied permission to its students to hold a protest and “talks by activists” against the suspension of an associate professor, apprehending “it may lead to polarisation and communalisation of students and vitiate the academic atmosphere on the University premises which could lead to untoward incidents”.
The students claimed that they were not allowed to protest even outside the campus as police have already detained three students citing imposition of prohibitory orders under Sector 144 of the CrPC. They have now threatened to move the Gujarat High Court.
In response to a request letter written on February 17 by a PhD student representing the research scholars and seeking permission to hold a protest against the recent suspension of associate professor of Economics Jaya Prakash Pradhan, the University through its registrar H L Hiremath on February 22 stated, “….Any such protest or demonstration by students on issues not concerning them are of sensitive nature may lead to polarisation and communalisation of students and vitiate the academic atmosphere on the University premises which could lead to untoward incidents that the University administration is mandated to prevent.”
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The varsity letter also said, “As has already been explained earlier vide this office letter dated (2/2/2017) responding to the request from 5 students, it is reiterated that Executive Council (EC) of Central University of Gujarat as the appointing and disciplinary authority of the University has taken a decision to suspend Jaya Prakash Pradhan based on the report of the Inquiry Committee constituted by the EC to look into the complaint filed by a Scheduled Caste student alleging discrimination, bias and harassment based on caste. Hence, this is a purely disciplinary and administrative matter relating to an employee of the University and as such in no way concerned or relevant to the students and hence students are advised not to get involved in the issue.”
Further it stated, “..Under these circumstances it is not advisable to organise protest or demonstration, which could precipitate crisis situation on the University premises. Further, as CUG is an academic institution, activists are not to be brought for any propagation. Hence, in the interest of students, faculty and staff and for maintaining peaceful academic atmosphere for pursuit of teaching and research, the University administration does not accord permission to anyone to organise protest or demonstration on the University premises.”
Later University vice-chancellor Prof Syed Abdul Bari told The Indian Express, “What is going elsewhere (in other central universities), we do not want to repeat here. Outside the campus, we do not have any jurisdiction but inside the students have no reason to hold protest as the issue they want to protest against does not concern students at all.”
The V-C said that the students want to bring activists from outside to participate in this protest. “This is an academic institution and the students or for that matter no one can bring activists from outside and create problems. There are many other ways to become a leader, do something good for the students or the University rather than sitting on dharna.”
The students, however, threatened to move the Gujarat High Court. “In this case, we have no other option but to approach the Gujarat High Court for our fundamental rights. We had tried to hold a protest outside the university gate a few days ago, but police detained three of my coursemates,” said Alok Kumar, PhD scholar from School of International Studies.
The issue pertains to the suspension of the associate professor on disciplinary grounds on January 18, based on an inquiry committee report after a complaint filed by a Scheduled Caste student alleging discrimination, bias and harassment based on caste.
The University in its correspondence has also stated that in the meantime the authorities have approached Jaya Prakash Pradhan several times and have tried to resolve the issue. “Despite all these efforts, on the part of the University, Jaya Prakash Pradhan has not come forward to settle the issue amicably and has decided to go in for a sit-in protest.”