Written by Paranjaya Mehra
Two students of Panjab University’s department of Geology, who are on hunger strike to demand a special chance exam for the Science department students to clear backlogs, garnered support from the SOI on Sunday.
SOI’s Chetan Chaudhary, the newly elected PUCSC President had not participated in the oath taking ceremony on September 13 to extend his support to the students sitting on hunger strike. The oath taking ceremony for Chetan was re-scheduled for September 16, to be held in the presence of Sukhbir Singh Badal.
However, the other office bearers, who took oath on the scheduled day, alleged that Chetan had not taken oath till now, as SAD wanted its chief Sukhbir Singh Badal to be present at the ceremony.
Replying to the allegations, Chetan said, “I was asked by the university about my decision to not attend the oath taking ceremony. I have replied that when the authorities will issue the notification for special exam chance, I will take the oath. If they had published the notification on September 13, I would have taken oath on that day itself. The other office bearers are dummy candidates from the NSUI and they say whatever they are instructed to.”
On hunger strike as a medium of protest, Chetan , said, “We do not wish to sit on hunger strike but the authorities leave no option with us. If we submit a letter or personally talk to the members of the authority, they do not pay heed. Hunger strike is one of the few mediums by which the authorities feel pressurised to listen to what the students have to say.”
Chetan has been a part of three hunger strikes till now, one concerning UICET courses’ tenure and two others against fee hikes. On being asked that if the authorities do not declare the official notification of the special exam on Monday before the oath ceremony, will he still take the oath, Chetan said, “The authorities have promised that they will take out the official notification of the special chance exam on Monday and hence, we have scheduled the oath taking ceremony on September 16. I was told by the authorities that I anyway have to take the oath and I cannot let this matter hang on. I hope the authority does not retract from their words.”
A student supporting the demand for special exam chance, Arsh said, “We sat outside the VC office for one day and from the past three days, we are sitting inside the VC office. The university authorities have assured us that they will conduct a meeting on Monday morning and a notice will be passed regarding the same. Although, we will continue the hunger strike until a formal notice is issued by the university.” He added, “These two girls are not sitting on strike for their own benefit, but for every science student. Many students from the Science department have extended their support. They begun the strike without any political support, but the university started to pay heed as the SOI members came forward and supported us.”
As per university rules, the uncleared backlogs result in a loss of an entire academic year.