Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) students of Lajpat Rai Dav College in Jagraon protested against the institute on Tuesday for installing separate biometric attendance system for them.
Demanding an FIR against college principal under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the students alleged that the system was a deliberate step to make them feel inferior.
The Punjab Students’ Union, which led the protest, also announced statewide agitation by Dalit students in Punjab on September 7.
On Monday late, college principal Dr Karan Sharma had suspended the system until he received clarity on instructions from the government.
“Whenever we approach DPI colleges office to claim scholarship fees for these (SC/ST) students, they specifically ask why we did not submit the biometric attendance records of these students. They never raise this question for other students. It was only after we received their written orders that we installed this machine,” said Sharma.
The letter (a copy which is with The Indian Express) undersigned by assistant director (scholarships), dated February 10 this year states ‘all higher educational institutions and colleges are directed that biometric system for attendance be started for students… ’. The letter does not specify scholarship scheme. It adds: Attendance of all students spanning across all courses and classes be recorded with biometric system.
Sarita Chopra, assistant director (scholarships) said, “We never issued any specific orders for biometric attendance of SC/ST students only. Apart from Post Matric Scholarship scheme, which is for SC/ST students, there are various other scholarship schemes running and we wanted attendance records of all students to be streamlined.”
Karamjeet Singh, state finance secretary of Punjab students union and student of the college said, “Why did our college started this for Dalit students only? Attendance of others is marked manually. We also want fee refund. Since three years, not a single penny under Post Matric Scholarship Scheme has been reimbursed.”