Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy : U4UVoice
New Delhi: Since the past three days, students of Central University of Jammu (CUJ) have been unable to attend college as the administration has decided to cancel the bus service for hostel inmates.
Students see the decision to cancel the bus service as the administration’s way to put pressure on them to call off their ongoing protest against the hike in the bus fares.
Since the past six-months, CUJ students have been protesting, time and again, against the increase in the bus fares. On February 5, thousands of students staged a demonstration appealing for a roll-back of the hike. Following the protest, students alleged that the administration warned them that those who refuse to comply with the fare hike decision, won’t be allowed to use the bus service.
“We have been protesting against the sudden imposition of transportation fee by the university administration but our pleas have been falling on deaf ears. There was dharna in the premises on Tuesday, but the Vice Chancellor didn’t bother to hear us out. We agreed to end the dharna after the administration promised a meaningful debate on the issue, instead they resorted to harassment by suspending the bus services,” said a student, wishing anonymity.
The student alleged that bus drivers had been instructed not to let any hosteller board their buses. “We have not been able to attend the classes since Wednesday, and to add to our woes, we have been threatened with shortage of attendance if we don’t attend classes,” she said.
The protesting students said the admission prospectus clearly mentioned they have to pay Rs1,000 a year as bus fee along with the admission fee, “but in the middle of the session the administration was asking them to pay “ten times of the fare,” that is, Rs 1000 per month.
The students further alleged that the university works five days a week, which amounts to 22 working days a month. “It’s a case of blatant injustice. Rs 1,000 for 22 days? We are students. We have no mode of income. How can they deviate from what’s written in the admission prospectus? “, they said, adding that there were many students from Kerala and other parts of India who stay in the hostel and to pressure them, the administration has stopped the bus service,”.
As per the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines, no Central University can change or alter their fee structure before 2020. “Since transport service is the part of the fee structure, any change would be a violation of the UGC guidelines. Also, payments for the respective session have already been made. How can they suddenly ask us to pay higher bus fee? Also, no local transport routes are fully functional to replace university bus services,” adding that a total of Rs 564 was the monthly expenditure of a student using public transport” said another student.
Students said they came from middle class families in the hope of “availing subsidised education” such a sudden change in their budget was discouraging.
Notably, the university is located in Raya Suchani in district Samba, which is, 25 kilometers from students hostels in Sainik Colony, Jammu city. The students staying in hostel and the ones living in Jammu city, depend on the college bus to reach the university.