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The students and faculty of the Delhi Technological University are protesting over a status upgrade for their college...

As the DTU protests refuse to end,with both students and the administration sticking to their stand,Deepu Sebastian Edmond takes a look at the controversy

What is the protest all about?
The students and faculty of the Delhi Technological University (DTU) are protesting over a status upgrade for their college. Earlier under a Central university,the DTU is now a state-run university. They are also aggrieved over the manner in which the procedure was carried out.

The Delhi College of Engineering,a constituent college of the Delhi University,was converted into a state university on July 1,2009. The Delhi Technological University Bill was fast-tracked by the Delhi legislature and passed by the Assembly in two months.

Students claim the Bill was passed in haste when the college was closed to prevent debate on the matter.

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The conversion took place in 2009,nearly a year ago. Why has the issue been taken up now?
There was a protest by the faculty at the time of the conversion,which was soon put down by the authorities. That seems to be a reason why the faculty has been relatively silent this time round.  

The matter was also raised in the Delhi University’s Executive Council,as the required permission for the conversion was not obtained from the parent university. DU Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental had also written to the Union Law minister and Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna on the matter.

The students,on their part,have not been idle. A series of RTI petitions were filed on the conversion. They took much more than the required 30 days to be replied to,the students alleged.  

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A number of things seem to come together recently that helped the students’ cause.  

The Delhi High Court accepted a writ petition filed by DU Executive Council member Rajib Ray challenging the conversion and have asked the parties concerned to file replies.  

An alumni meet held in the campus brought together former students,who spoke out strongly against the conversion.

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Also,the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education,with Oscar Fernandes as chairman and Rahul Gandhi as a member,had cancelled a visit to the institution in late January. The first students’ protest was to take place that day. The committee reportedly postponed the visit after taking into consideration fears that a visit would “legitimise the takeover”.

Most importantly,students claim that the replies to most RTI queries were received only recently,delaying their protests.

What did the RTI replies say?
The most important revelation is that the DCE had not obtained the required No Objection Certificates or permission from various bodies before the conversion. The students used this reply to contradict a claim made by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the Legislative Assembly. Dikshit had claimed that all required permissions were taken from the Ministry of Human Resource and Development,but the RTI reply said none was needed,and hence,not obtained.

The RTI queries also questioned the basis of the conversion,which was claimed to be upgrading the syllabus and recruiting more faculty with attractive pay packets and research opportunities. Despite these claims,it was proved that DTU Vice-Chancellor P B Sharma,DCE’s principal for nearly a decade,had not recommended any major changes for the college to the Delhi University. He had also failed to send promotion rules to the UPSC on time.

What are the students’ demands?
The protest began as a movement to revoke the conversion and bring the institution back under the DU. The university authorities,however,came down on the leaders of the agitation rather heavily,expelling two students. Later,the Wi-Fi system in the hostel was disconnected and armed policemen were deployed in the campus. Two teachers were also suspended without an inquiry being initiated in the matter.

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All this worsened the issue and the students’ ire turned against V-C Sharma. Now,along with the demand for the revocation of the order,the students are also asking for his removal.

Besides these two,they also have a long list of other demands,but according to them those can be negotiated only after the core demands are met. The Delhi government has said it is not willing to negotiate on the core demands. The protests,therefore,continue.

First published on: 01-04-2010 at 01:12:00 am
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