Around 30 students were detained on Thursday on Panjab University campus after police resorted to a baton charge on participants in a protest held in front of the vice chancellor's office over the hike of Rs. 6 in mess charges by varsity authorities.
Police personnel stopping students of Panjab University from entering the V-C's office during their protest against increase in mess charges in Chandigarh on Thursday. HT photo
Even as PU VC Prof Arun Grover told
the students that food kiosk offering meals at Rs. 24 per diet would be set up in hostels, he could not assure rollback of hike in prices of food items available at canteens on the campus. So, the standoff of university officials with students continued.
Earlier, around noon, as the protesting students tried to gatecrash into the vice chancellor's office on Thursday, varsity authorities called police that used force to push back the students. Not taking things lying down, students too shoved the policemen. Heated arguments were exchanged between police and agitating students who even turned abusive with DSP (central) Ashish Kapoor.
The detained students were herded into the riot control van stationed at the spot. However, a standoff between police and students continued as the latter gheraoed the VC office and dared law enforcers to take detainees out to the police station.
DSP Ashish Kapoor later managed to convince a delegation of students to hold parleys with VC Prof Arun Grover. The dram continued till late afternoon and it was around 3.30pm that Prof Grover arrived and talked to students.
The VC maintained that he had personally drafted a letter to UT adviser KK Sharma, urging the UT administration to give subsidy on LPG cylinders used in hostel messes on the campus.
Prof Grover assured that he would also write to all ministers concerned from the region, asking them to create a corpus of funds for the varsity so that old mess charges of Rs. 24 per diet could be maintained.
With students unrelenting on their demand, the VC assured that kiosks would be opened in all hostels where food would be available at Rs. 24 per meal while those who wished to continue to eat at the mess would pay Rs. 30 per meal.
Prof Grover assured that till the time kiosks were opened, students would have to pay Rs. 24 per meal only, which means that the hike has been kept in abeyance at least for the time being.
The VC, however, refused to say whether the hike in items available at hostel canteens would be rolled back or not. The protesting students again got upset and began sloganeering against PU authorities, making police make another bid to control them.
Though the VC tried to offer juice to students sitting on hunger strike to end their fast, the protesting students did not allow him to do so. Prof Grover was forced to retreat to his office.
Meanwhile, PU authorities did not ask Chandigarh police to initiate action against agitating students so as not to mar their future prospects and to maintain peace on the PU campus. It is pertinent to mention here that it was only a police team led by DSP Ashish Kapoor that prevailed upon students to mellow down whereas varsity authorities haven't been able to do much for the past four days.