Student bodies of Panjab University, especially the Left, protested on Thursday in support of girl students demanding 24-hour girls’ hostels at Punjabi University in Patiala. Members of the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Punjab Students’ Union (PSU) Lalkaar addressed a gathering at the Student Centre on Thursday to raise awareness about the struggle at the Patiala varsity.
Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) President Kanupriya, who has been vocal about her demand for 24-hour hostels, also addressed the gathering. The protesters said students at Punjabi University were fighting for equal rights to girls, demanding 24-hour hostels. They added that the students there have been protesting for the past two weeks. The curfew at girls’ hostels in Patiala is 8 pm. Many professors, employees, democratic organisations and even artistes have expressed support for this protest, but the university authorities have been adamant about their stand. The condition of two students sitting on hunger strike has deteriorated.
Vijay Kumar of AISA and Amandeep Kaur of PSU Lalkaar said this was an issue of equal rights for women at PU too. While students have managed to extend the curfew till 11 pm here after persistent struggle, a lot has to be achieved and students have to come forward.
The demand for 24-hour hostels was first raised by the Students For Society (SFS) and later picked up by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Students Organisation of India (SOI) last year. Vani Sood, secretary of PUCSC 2017, launched the Pinjra Tod campaign on the campus while Iqbalpreet Singh Takhar, the SOI presidential candidate this year, sat on hunger strike. Soon, the authorities agreed to extend the curfew till 11 pm but did not fulfil the demand for 24-hour hostels.
Women hostellers, however, have repeatedly complained that even now they were being penalised according to the previous timings. The extension was not properly implemented by the authorities in the previous session, stating that “parents’ feedback” should also be taken into account.