Even as the Panjab University finds itself in a soup due to snowballing protests over its proposal to hike per meal price in hostel messes by Rs. 6, deep differences have emerged among university students on the emotive issue.
After the recently elected Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC) gave its consent to university authorities to increase the mess charges, not only many students but also leaders of different student bodies pitted against the PU move are talking of withdrawing support to the student leaders on the campus panel.
It is pertinent to mention here that Students Federation of India (SFI) had extended unconditional support to the student council during last election, but has now withdrawn the same and is supporting the students protesting against the mess rate hike.
Due to sharp differences among students themselves and a number of student leaders joining the protest bandwagon, students are finding it difficult to decide which way to go.
Though a couple of student leaders agreed to VC AK Grover's announcement to roll back diet price increase till food kiosks were set up in hostels, a few students did not agree. Supporting the latter, leaders of different student bodies had no option but to continue with the protest.
On the other hand, the PUCSC is trying to shift the blame on leaders of other student bodies on the campus.
Talking to Hindustan Times, council president Satinder Singh Satti said, "We are the elected student council of the university and we have given the go-ahead for the hike, taking into consideration the consent of maximum students on the campus. There is a certain way to handle things. If students had a problem, they could have come to us. We could have taken up the issue with authorities and looked for a solution. No way can we abuse our teachers, deans and the vice chancellor. Student leaders supporting the protest are merely trying to draw mileage out of this issue while students are being made to suffer."
On the other hand, Sunny Mehta, a student leader of National Students Union of India, said, "We began the protest in the interest of students and now cannot step backward."
Interestingly, the protest began with a handful of students but different student parties jumped on to the bandwagon over a period of time. Now, all of them are trying to take credit on the matter.
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