NEARLY A month after the West Bengal State Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Skill Development gave affiliation to Malda’s Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering & Technology (GKCIET), following days of protests and hunger strike by students, the institute on Thursday suspended classes till further notice.
The notice comes after three students, who had been on a hunger strike demanding affiliation to computer science and civil engineering courses, fell sick and had to be hospitalised during the last three days.
In a letter dated June 27 and addressed to the GKCIET director, the chief administrative officer of West Bengal State Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Skill Development had said that the institute has been accorded affiliation for two-year certificate and two-year diploma courses. Apart from fresh batches, the council had decided to award certificates to previous batches “in retrospect’’ from the first batch of 2010-11. However, courses on computer science and civil engineering were not accorded affiliation.
“When we had questioned the authority of the state council giving affiliation to GKCIET, as the institute was under the Union HRD Ministry, we were told the ministry can empower the state to give affiliation for a limited period of time. We were assured that the pattern would be similar to a certificate course, which is conducted after Class X,” said an agitating student.
Sukriti Adhikari, a second-year student of chemical engineering certificate course, and Nisha Yadav, a second-year student of computer science certificate course, were admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital on August 2. Amit Vikram, a second-year student of civil engineering, was admitted to the hospital on Thursday after he fell sick due to prolonged hunger strike.
The three, who had started an agitation along with other students in the middle of June, had suspended their protest after the institute was given affiliation by the state council. However, a month later, they again sat on a hunger strike demanding affiliation to computer science and civil engineering courses.
Sahin Zahedi, a first-year diploma course student, said they had approached the sub-divisional officer on August 2. “The SDO had asked for a day to look into the matter. Since he could not do anything about it, the agitation resumed on Thursday… We are desperate. If nothing is done to address our problem soon, we are ready to immolate ourselves if that is what is required to attract the attention of the authorities,” he added.
A notice outside the institute, signed by the registrar on Thursday, read: “Due to the prevailing security situation at GKCIET Malda, regular activity of classes is suspended till further orders with immediate effect. All students are requested to leave the institution premises and hostel with their belongings immediately. Everyone will be notified as soon as the situation improves and a decision is taken to recommence the normal classes.”
Students alleged that the authorities wanted to shut down the institute. “We have been told that no new students would be admitted. No matter what year they are in, existing students would be given certificates and asked to leave after the end of academic year,” said Zahedi.
GKCIET Director Ashok Kumar Dey, however, claimed classes have been suspended over security concerns. “Classes were suspended because we get complaints about outsiders entering the premises and creating trouble. When these matters are resolved, classes would resume.”
Denying allegations that the institution would be shut down, he said: “If that was the case, why would I, as the director, take so much of pain to get the affiliation from the HRD ministry? I have told students that all courses would get affiliation. I believe they are being misled by some external and political forces.”