Teachers of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) started a relay hunger strike on the Surta Singh road here on Thursday to protest against the non-payment of arrears from 2006 to mid-2009 following revision in their pay scales.
The protest spot is 100 metres from the periphery of the university campus. They cannot hold protest on the campus since a local court has directed them to participate in all protests outside the 100 metre radius of the campus. The court had issued this order after the university authorities expressed apprehension that the teachers might resort to violence to vitiate the peaceful academic atmosphere on the campus.
The protest call was given by the GNDU Teachers Association (GNDUTA) following a decision by its executive body. GNDUTA president Prof Devinder Singh alongwith executive member Prof Balwinder Singh commenced the relay hunger strike alongside other colleagues who sat on a dharna and raised slogans against vice chancellor AS Brar and the Punjab government.
Addressing the dharna, Devinder Singh claimed that the association was forced to go for agitation as all options of parleys were closed due to anti-teacher and adamant attitude of the vice chancellor.
“In order to muzzle the voice of the teachers, the V-C secured an order from the local court to restrict even peaceful demonstration within a radius of 100 metres from the university boundary by raising the bogey of a violent agitation which is unprecedented in the entire history of the teachers association,” he said.
The protesting teachers received a steady stream of visitors all through the day, including some local political leaders.
Meanwhile, the Khalsa College Teachers Association (KCTA) also came out in support of GNDUTA. Its president Prof JS Arora paying a visit at the dharna spot and expressed solidarity with GNDUTA over their genuine demands.
Arora criticised the “autocratic style of working” of the vice chancellor and appealed to the state government to immediately release the arrears of GNDU and Khalsa College teachers.
A GNDU release claimed that the university had taken up the release of arrears of the 6th Pay Commission to varsity teachers with the Punjab government from time to time. “We were sure to get the required grant from the government before March 31, 2013. However, it could not be cleared due to paucity of funds,” said a circular issued by the V-C to the heads of all departments.
In the circular Brar took pains to explain that since last month he had been continuously in touch with the DPI office, higher education department and finance department. Brar claimed the finance department had cleared the file pertaining to arrears and now it would go to the higher education department/ DPI for necessary formalities for the release of arrears from the treasury. He further claimed that the finance minister had agreed to pay the arrears as early as possible.