In a bizarre move, the Pondicherry University (PU) administration has issued a circular to conduct counselling session for students who had participated in a rally opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The PU Students’ Council (PUSC) burned the circular in protest which was interrupted by the security guards of the university campus. PUSC accused the administration of threatening the students for participating in the protests.
Meanwhile, the indefinite sit-in protest of the PUSC, demanding roll back of fee hike, withdrawal of transportation fee and implementation of 25% reservation for Puducherry students, entered the 15th day.
‘COUNSELLING’ FOR PARTICIPATING IN PROTEST
The Dean of Students Welfare issued a circular on February 18 to the head of departments to conduct ‘counselling sessions’ for participating in unauthorised rallies held in the campus on December 10 against the CAA. Condemning the circular as a move towards curbing the right to dissent, the PUSC had held a protest which was disturbed by a security guard employed in the campus. The guard, who was reportedly in an inebriated condition, tried to prevent the students from burning the circular.
Parichay Yadav, the president of PUSC told NewsClick, “The circular advising the heads of department and deans to provide counselling to the students for participating in the anti-CAA rally is meaningless. In the name of counselling, the administration is threatening the students for expressing their dissent. The heads of department and research supervisors are unfortunately indulging in the shameful act. The PUSC as a show of solidarity burned the circular in front of the admin block.”
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The heads of departments and deans have also been instructed to submit a report of the counselling sessions offered to the students. The students claim that the administration is imposing the policies pursued by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
SIT-IN PROTEST CONTINUES
The sit-in protest of the PUSC continued for the 15th day as the discussions held on Monday with the committee constituted by the university administration did not yield any positive result. The committee offered no assurances on the demands raised by the students’ council forcing the students to continue their protest. The office bearers of the PUSC have also met peoples’ representatives and political leaders of the union territory to garner support for their protest in protecting the public education system.
“The committee members offered to reduce 20% fee only for economically backward students. Not only is the reduction unacceptable, the committee had no idea of how the beneficiary students will be selected. They informed us that funds from the University Grants Commission have drastically reduced and the fee hike is to pay the ad-hoc faculty members. The students should not be overloaded for the mess in fund allocation for public education, Yadav added.
Also read: After Eight Days, Pondicherry University To Hold Talks with Protesting Students
In solidarity with the protesting students of PU, many students are expressing their support by boycotting classes. On February 21, the students of Bharathidasan Women’s College in Pondicherry took out a march towards the Raj Bhavan.
BLACK FLAG PROTEST
All the students’ unions in Puducherry will hold a black flag protest on the day of Vice President’s visit on February 26. He has scheduled an official visit to the union territory and will attend the graduation ceremony of the university. The Students’ Federation of India, All India Students’ Federation, Puducherry Union Territory Students’ Federation and many other students and youth organisations will wave black flags during the VP’s visit. The previous graduation ceremony with the President of the country as the chief guest was also boycotted by a large number of graduates.
With the opportunity for dissenting being curbed in many places including campuses, the students claimed that they have been left with no option but to protest massively. Another cause of concern is the government reducing funds for public education, which is preventing socially and economically backward students from obtaining quality and affordable education.
Also read: Fee Hike Means Further Exclusion of Common Students from Education