The students of Pondicherry University Students Council (PUSC), who were protesting against fee hike, have been detained by the Puducherry Police on February 25. The detentions took place ahead of the Vice President's visit tomorrow to the campus for the graduation ceremony. The students alleged manhandling by the police after they refused to vacate the admin block. In addition to demanding the roll back of the exorbitant fee hike, the students are also protesting against introduction of transport fee and demanding implementation of 25% reservation for Puducherry students.
The university administration has been in denial mode and downplayed the protest of the PUSC as a sudden one. The PUSC dismissed the allegation and released a fact sheet explaining the sequence of events leading to the 'occupy admin' protest. The students had raised these demands as early as July 2019 and had also started a hunger strike.
However, in view of the vice president’s visit, the campus was allegedly handed over to the police by the university administration. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was also deployed in the campus. The relentless students refused to move and remained in the admin block and insisted that their demands should be met. Following this, the police resorted to forcefully removing the students. Some of the protesting students are locked inside a department within the university campus itself. The police had taken a few protesting students out of the campus in a vehicle. The agitating students have blocked the roads resulting in a traffic block.
A protesting student told NewsClick, "The police manhandled the protesters including the girl students. Dresses of many girl students were also torn during the police action. Some of the students are locked inside the campus itself. The university administration has taken the support of the state government in silencing the protest. The chief minister of Puducherry has not spoken against the fee hike or even on the implementation of 25% reservation for Puducherry students."
The protesting students had announced that their fight is not only against the fee hike in the university, but a struggle to protect affordable public education. The PUSC had also met the leaders of different political parties seeking support for the protest. The important demand raised by the PUSC at this juncture has not evoked any response from the Congress government of the union territory.
A Anand, former central executive committee member of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) said, "The Congress government here seems to function in support of the university administration. The university has increased the fee drastically and implemented transport fees for native students. They are not ready to implement reservation for Puducherry students also. In spite of all these problems, the chief minister has not spoken in support of the protesting students."
Earlier today, members of various students' and youth organisations welcomed the vice president with back flags in support of the protesting students.
It should be noted, the police have been trying to end the protests using different tactics since last night. The protesting students were prevented from taking food or using washrooms. No students were permitted to supply food to the protesting students also. The students alleged that the personnel deployed there asked them to leave the place if they had to take food or use the washrooms. Since no students were permitted to meet the protesting students, the students refused to leave.
The students were continuing their protest after the university committee on February 17 failed to consider their demands. The PUSC office bearers alleged that the university has not even written to the Ministry of Human Resource Development on the ongoing strike about their demands.
Also read: Pondicherry University Students Occupy Admin Block, Demand Rollback of Fee Hike