Students protesting for 24-hour open girls’ hostels in Panjab University (PU) handed over a ‘sharam ka tohfa’ to the authorities in form of sweet boxes containing notes with ‘sharam’ (shame) stamped on them, on Diwali on Wednesday. Students observed ‘Black Diwali’ on day 10 of the protest after talks with the authorities on their review proposal remained inconclusive.
Students gathered outside the Vice-Chancellor’s house but were stopped by the security personnel who also told them that he was unavailable.
“Hum apni authorities ko yeh keemti sharam dene aaye hain (We’ve come to hand over shame as a precious Diwali gift to the authorities). This is that shame that they did not feel even though students have been protesting for the past 10 days now. Neither have the deans nor has the V-C done anything constructive to take up students’ demands,” said Kanupriya, addressing the gathering.
When the security personnel outside the V-C’s house stopped the students from going inside and told them he was not there, some students shouted that the V-C was neither in his office nor at home when he was needed. “Why is he so scared of us? He never wants to meet us. He’s never present. Is he the V-C of the Panjab University?” added Kanupriya.
The students slipped the sweet box for the V-C under his gate shouting slogans such as ‘Curfew raj nahin chalega’ and ‘Raj Kumar sharam karo, sharam karo’ (have some shame). The students also handed over sweet boxes for the Dean of Student Welfare (Men) Prof Emanual Nahar and DSW (Women) Neena Caplash. Chief of University Security Prof Ashwani Koul was the only one to physically accept the box from the students. However, he was unavailable for a comment when contacted.
On Day 11 of the protest, students gathered for a discussion on the demand for 24-hour open girls’ hostels, its origin in the university and the importance. Students talked about how such issues could be politicised to twist it to the benefit of the authorities. Students said they will protest for as long as it takes to fulfil their demands.
On Monday, the university had submitted a proposal to protesters stating that residents will be allowed to exit their hostels anytime between 9pm and 11pm, but have to move an application to the hostel to go out after curfew. This meant, late entry to hostels will be allowed between 11pm and 5am. They wanted to bring the exit and entry curfew timings at par.
However, students were dissatisfied with the proposal and had protested in front of the V-C’s office. They said the proposal was “confusing” and detracted from their absolute demand of 24-hour open hostels for women.
Students had given a proposal for maintaining an entry and exit register, keeping in mind security and parents’ concerns. The university will reopen on Monday and the authorities have assured the students that they will be looking into the demand for the single form register then.