Dharna by class 12 students belonging to scheduled caste from Government School Deep Singh Wala has entered its 10th day outside DC office as no word has come from Punjab government regarding fee waiver of students. The dharna was being organised under the banner of Punjab students union(PSU) and they have given a call of November 7 for state-wide protest on fee waiver issue.
District level dharnas will be organised by students and PSU units on November 7, revealed Hardeep Kotla, zonal President of PSU. The students are protesting against the fee being charged by Punjab government from SC students, despite the fact that as per National post-matric scheme, SC students are not supposed to pay any fee.
The fee is normally refunded, but students and even teachers from few schools allege that it takes more than a year, and sometimes even two years to be refunded. The 23 protesting students did not even fill the forms for final exams of class 12. More than four lakh SC students are studying in various schools of Punjab and it is normal practice that students are asked to pay the fee first and are later reimbursed.
“At times when refund comes, students go to college for higher studies, and it becomes difficult to locate the students at that time,” said a government teacher on the condition of anonymity.
Although the deputy commissioner Mohammad Tayaab and even the district education officer had spoken to the students numerous times, they were unsuccessful in persuading the students to end their dharna. Deputy commssioner Mohammad Tayaab while talking to The Indian Express said,” the matter has been taken with the education department and any decision in this context will come from the department. It is a policy matter. Students were asked to fill the examination forms without fee, but they refused to do so. We have informed the authorities about the stand of these students.”
Students meanwhile stated that Government was charging fee and refunding them too late, though the scheme was sponsored by the centre. They also stated that no action was being taken against the institutes which were charging fee from SC students. Meanwhile, The protesting students complained that the district administration authorities were not even allowing them to use toilets in the complex.
The stand-off is likely to continue with authorities sitting over the issue for the past 10 days.