Students of Khalsa College of Engineering and Technology boycotted classes for the second consecutive day here on Thursday in protest against what they termed as a "suffocating atmosphere" on the campus due to the autocratic style of functioning of the college authorities.
Their main grouse was that college director Dr RPS Shukerchakia had framed "self-styled" rules under which heavy fines were being extracted from them on one excuse or the other. They also have complaints regarding the behaviour of the director, whom they described as "rude", as well as the head of a particular department.
Student leaders said on condition of anonymity that they were being "squeezed" by the authorities mentally, physically and financially. They claimed that their class timings were from 8 am to 6 pm and they were being asked to attend classes even on Saturdays and Sundays.
"If we fail to attend classes on holidays, heavy fines are imposed on us and we are threatened that we will be detained and not allowed to appear for the semester examinations. Extra classes are okay once in a while, but here these have become a routine, leaving no time for hostellers to go home once a month to be with their parents," the students leaders claimed.
Gathered at the college canteen, they said that at the time of admission a lot was promised by way of facilities, but the infrastructure in the department labs was inadequate as most of the computers were not in working condition. "There is no WiFi connectivity, which had been promised by the college authorities. Not everyone can afford laptops and Internet connections. During the rainy season, water enters some of the labs," they complained.
They rued that there were no hostel facilities, which the authorities had promised would come up soon. They said that most of the students were staying as paying guests while some were provided accommodation in a house.
"The students who fall sick are asked by the college authorities to produce a medical certificate from a government hospital and warned that if they do not produce a medical certificate, they would fall short of lectures," said the protesting students, adding that they would continue with their agitation till their grievances are addressed.
Dr Sukerchakia termed the strike as uncalled for and claimed that just a couple of students who were not serious about their studies were behind it.
"We take extra classes for the sake of students to improve their performance. These classes are conducted for the benefit of below-average students, most of whom are from the rural background," he told HT.
On the infrastructure in the college, he said their facilities were the best in Amritsar. "More facilities are being added as the college is still under construction," said the college director.
On allegations that he was rude to students, Dr Sukerchakia said, "I am considered rude because I ask them to attend classes. At times, as head of an institute, you have to assert yourself. They also have a problem with a head of department because he is serious in his work."
Dr Sukerchakia appealed to the students to give up their protest and start attending classes as they had a future to build.