Hearing the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) case against the protesting students, The Bombay High Court on March 28 said that the students can continue with peaceful protest without the blockade. The court listed the next hearing to June.
The TISS administration had moved to the court suing six protesting students for allegedly obstructing the institute’s official work. The institute also had served memos to fifteen students stating that administrative action will be taken against them for allegedly taking “law in their hand”.
Fahad Ahmed, General Secretary of Students Union, TISS Mumbai, said that the administration should resolve the issue through a dialogue. “We have been peacefully protesting for the last 36 days and today the court also did not oppose our strike. The TISS administration must resolve the issue through a dialogue, not by booking false cases against students,” Ahmed said to Newsclick.
Ahmed further said that the ongoing strike is “Fight for social justice” and will continue until the institution agrees to the students’ charter of demands.
Since February 21, in all four TISS campuses - Mumbai, Hyderabad, Tuljapur and Guwahati, students have been on strike against the institute’s decision to withdraw financial aid to students from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes (including religious and other minorities) who are eligible for the Central government’s post-matriculation scholarships.
The main argument of the protesting students has been that the rollback of financial aid for students who are eligible for the Government of India Post-Matric Scholarship (GoI-PMS), has increased financial pressure especially for students from marginalized sections. The institute has also increased fees in the last three years, the cumulative semester fee for hostel facilities has increased steeply from Rs 18,000 in 2013-14 to Rs 31,000 in 2016-17.
Earlier TISS administration claimed that the reason for rolling back the financial aid was because of the fund cuts by UGC. However, UGC had recently denied that there are no such fund cuts and assured the protesting students of releasing the pending arrears for TISS.
The ongoing protest has received solidarity from TISS alumnus, various students and civil rights organisations across the country.