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Protests escalates in Puducherry Univ over debarring 11 students who protested fee hike

🔴 Besides debarring them, they are also prohibited from taking admission in any course offered by the university for the next five years.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
January 4, 2022 9:16:19 am
Opposition parties and student groups in Puducherry union territory are preparing for an agitation on January 5.

Opposition parties and student groups in Puducherry union territory are preparing for an agitation on January 5 over the Puducherry Central University administration’s decision to debar 11 students who led a protest against the fee hike in early 2020.

Students who faced action in an order last month include students’ council president Parichay Yadav. Besides debarring them, they are also prohibited from taking admission in any course offered by the university for the next five years. Students are now moving the Madras high court too, seeking justice citing an unusual order that spoils their academic career.

The university order, dated December 17, also prohibits their entry into the campus for the five-years, and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 to avail their degree certificates.

S Jayaprakash, SFI president, said they will continue their agitations as the latest action was to threaten students who engage in democratic protests. “We will continue our protest against the fee hike as well. We have sent petitions to the Chief Minister and Lt. Government of Puducherry besides other concerned authorities at the centre seeking justice. All major political parties of Puducherry have signed the petition and there will be an all party protest on January 5,” Jayaprakash said.

After the fee hike was announced in 2019, there were agitations in the campus. After a Madras HC intervention that appealed students to withdraw their protests to pave way for talks with the administration, a fee revision committee held talks in early 2020 though it failed to find a solution as the administration refused to agree with the demand of students — a complete roll back of fee hike for all programmes.

That was the point when students escalated their protests, an indefinite strike on February 6, 2020, demanding the administration to revoke the fee hike and extend free transportation for day scholars.

The major charge raised by students was that an administration appointed committee had arbitrarily announced the exorbitant fee hike for all programmes from 2019-2020 academic year.

A senior professor who spoke to The Indian Express said if the university appointed fee revision committee had listened to the Madras HC’s advice that suggested to talk and resolve the issue with an “open mind” for an “amicable settlement,” these issues wouldn’t have happened.

Another professor said Gurmeet Singh, VC of the university, was heckled by protesters at one point. “Probably that had led to this severe action though the much delayed action, whatever it may be, sounds unusual,” the professor said.

“The revision of fee was initiated as there was no fee hike for almost a decade. But the fee hike they finally implemented was unjust. And the fee revision committee’s decisions and their negotiations with students later were not open minded even though they had agreed to roll back fee hike for three courses when students demanded it for all programmes,” the professor said.

While offices of the registrar and VC were not available for comments, a top source who is known to the action against 11 students said they decided to debar 11 students after examining several video footage and recordings from protests, “which were proven violent, abusive and destructive.”

“Their slogans calling VC a thief and RSS sympathiser were highly insulting. They tried to manhandle him, preventing his mobility. The VC wasn’t against elections. He was the one who initiated student elections after a long time. He consulted students in all crucial decisions including the fee hike, he allowed protests against anti-CAA protests in the campus on a condition that classes were not disturbed. There was even an agreement signed on fee hike with students, later he agreed to revise them when students sought a revision. Even after the hike, Puducherry Central University has the lowest fee rates compared to many other central universities. However, the decision to debar 11 students was following a committee that assessed the nature of protests that was against the interest of academics and democracy,” the source said.

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