On March 17, nineteen students were rusticated from Kurukshetra University, Haryana, for protesting against the lack of basic facilities in the university. The affected students are members of the Joint Students’ Struggle Committee, a body comprising of members of the campus’ students’ organisations. Some of the rusticated students have been restricted from entering the university campus indefinitely, while a few have been restricted only for the current session.
The students were rusticated for participating in an agitation that was held on February 28. The agitation was organised to protest against the increase in mess fees, poor quality of food in the mess, and to demand conducting of the backlog examinations within three months of result. This is when the Joint Students’ Struggle Committee (JSSC) was formed by the students’ organisations active in the campus.
The Committee consists of students from Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Chhatra Ekta Manch, Disha Chhatra Sangathan, and other students’ organisations. Convener of the Joint Students’ Struggle Committee, Vinod Gill, told NewsClick, “Our movement against the administration lasted for exactly one month and five days.”
During the agitation on February 28, the police had detained 44 students. They were released later in the day. The Students’ Struggle committee protested against this move, following which the administration met the students, and agreed to most of their demands. They said that a committee will be formed to look into the issues being faced by the students. The VC was also present at the meeting. However, soon after this, the rustication order was given to 19 students.
Seven out of the nineteen rusticated students started an indefinite hunger strike on March 26, demanding immediate roll back of the rustication order. Sumit Singh, one of the rusticated students, who is also the Haryana State Vice President of SFI, told NewsClick, “The students have their final examinations coming up, and instead of preparing for the exams, they have been forced to come out on the street for their rights.”
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Suman, State President of SFI, told NewsClick, “The Vice Chancellor was the All India President of ABVP. He is clearly a right-winger, and has problems with SFI members. That is why he rusticated us, along with others for raising slogans against him. It is not our fault, we were the ones fighting for our rights. It is the VC who refused to meet us and listen to our demands, and instead, rusticated us.”
Eight days after the hunger strike started, several of the protesters have been hospitalised. Jyoti, one of the students sitting on the hunger strike is in a critical condition, as her health deteriorated rapidly.
Singh said, “The parents of the protesting students have been called. Several parents visited the campus to talk to the administration. The Proctorial Board has agreed to hold a meeting tomorrow to determine the fate of the rusticated students. The protest will not be stopped until the rustication is rolled back.”
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