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Rustication order leads to week-long protests, hunger strike, shutdown of premier Assam university

On February 8, Assam University – a Central university established in 1994 in Silchar — rusticated Milan Das, a research scholar of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, for two years.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati | Published: February 17, 2020 5:47:54 pm
Assam University, Assam University protests, Assam University convocation, Assam University students protest, Assam University student expelled The University has been under lockdown with classes suspended and administrative offices shut.

A rustication order to a research scholar has pushed one of Assam’s premier universities into turmoil, with classes suspended and students protesting continuously for a week.

On February 8, Assam University – a Central university established in 1994 in Silchar — rusticated Milan Das, a research scholar of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, for two years.

According to the order, Das has been forbidden to enter the university for the said period.

The Vice-Chancellor’s office also lodged an FIR against Das for “taking law in his hands on several incidences.” The order states seven reasons in all, including “causing threat to life of government/sources/officers of the University by attacking the officer,” “creating hindrance to office work by using force”, “throwing Vice-Chancellor’s chair from his office, “humiliating lady officer” etc.

Das’s phone was unreachable.

“About 500 of us started protesting in front of the University gate on February 10. And since February 12, about 15 students have gone on hunger strike,” said Aritra Dhar, general secretary of the Assam University Students’ Union. According to Dhar, five students have been admitted to Silchar Medical College because of their deteriorating health. “We will not budge till the rustication order on Milan Das is cancelled,” he said.

As a result, the University has been under lockdown with classes suspended and administrative offices shut. “However, the exams have continued as per schedule,” said Dhar.

In January, Das allegedly locked the administrative building of the University. “There is a lot of internal politics in our campus which led to all this,” said a student of the university, on the condition of anonymity, “We are not saying allegations are baseless or they did not happen. But to find out if these are true, the administration should at least follow a proper procedure, institute an inquiry committee etc. But they rusticated him without even a warning.”

In 2017-18, Das was the President of the Assam University Students’ Union. “He is took a vocal stand on most issues and always spoke up for our rights,” said the student.

On Monday, a group of students met with Vice-Chancellor Dilip Chandra Nath and Registar Prodush Kiran Nath to discuss the issue — but the stalemate continues.

“We will consider this only if Milan Das hands in a mercy petition — he should submit a written apology, and say that he will not repeat his actions in the future. But apart from verbal discussions with other students, there has been nothing. Without him submitting a formal plea, how can we make a decision,” asked Nath.

The students maintain that they have three main demands. “The FIR lodged by the authority should be removed, rustication should be revoked and a promise that no other student who has participated in the protest will be rusticated in the future,” said Dhar, adding that the protests will continue in full steam till they get some assurance from the university authorities.

According to Nath, it is “only a group of 50 students who are disturbing the peace in the university. It is not correct to block the university entry gates,” he said, adding that exams were going on “as per schedule.”

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