After the violent clashes at Panjab University, support for the students is swelling and different groups from Punjab and Chandigarh have come forward to back the students and demand rollback of fee hike. A day after 41 organisations came together at Barnala to support the students, another solidarity committee was formed in Chandigarh to build pressure on the fee hike issue.
On Sunday, Solidarity Committee for Panjab University and College Students, comprising various professionals, was formed to support the students’ demands. The group, headed by Professor Manjit Singh, will organise a candlelight march on campus on Monday. The Panjab University Sangarsh Hamayat Committee, which was formed on Saturday, is also scheduled to meet the PU administration and UT Administrator on April 17. The group comprising many farmer unions and social groups has called for district-level protests across Punjab on April 19.
The left-leaning Students for Society on Sunday held a press conference and said different groups had come out to support the students after Tuesday’s protest. A day after 48 students of Panjab University were released from jail, the students also recounted the horror they faced inside the police station. From being allegedly denied the basic necessitates to being beaten up inside police station, the students had only question to ask: “Why are we being treated like criminals?”
“When I was arrested, the policemen said we would see you at night. This is the kind of torture that we faced since the arrest,” said Satwinder Kaur, a history student at Panjab University and general secretary of SFS. “Derogatory comments were made against us and we were denied the basic necessitates.”
One of the three female students who were arrested on Tuesday, Jagjeet Kaur, said she was grabbed by the policemen and threatened torture. “They (police) kept saying beat her at the back with sticks. Inside the jail, when male students were being tortured, the police said same things would be done to me,” said Jagjeet, who is a student of music. “My friend Satwinder was dragged by male cops when the policewomen did not come forward.”
SFS leader Amritpal Singh, who is known for carrying a tambourine during protests on the campus, said the students were being treated like criminals when they were fighting for those being deprived of education due to the enhancement in fees. “Police had already come armed with teargas and guns to the spot. It has to be seen who had come armed first. Even I was told there were no stones in your hand but you had a tambourine. The police beat me on my hands,” he said.
Students, mostly belonging to the left-leaning student groups like SFS who were present at the press conference, said the university had launched a witch-hunt against students who had been speaking against the administration. “The university is identifying students and a witch-hunt is on to get them punished. University is a part of those who committed violence against students. We want police entry to the university should be stopped,” said Anoop Singh, a student.
Although the students condemned the violence that broke out on the campus, they said it was done in self- defence when the police started canecharging them. “Violence happens when you deprive a wider section of education. V-C is responsible for what happened to students. He should resign,” said Amritpal.
3 more detained, released later
Three more students, including an already bailed out student, were detained by Chandigarh Police on Sunday from the Students’ Centre at the end of the press conference held by SFS and other student groups. The students were identified as Amandeep Kaur, a student of French Department; Manav, a student of Urdu; and Amandeep, a student of BA evening who had been released on Saturday. A police official later said the students had been released and had only been detained for verification.