Joint Students Action Committee (JSAC), which comprises left-wing students’ bodies of Panjab University, including Students for Society (SFS), held a protest for over three and a half hours outside the vice-chancellor’s office at the varsity on Friday, seeking rollback of fee hike.
The protest ended after the acting dean university instructions, Prof Rajat Sandhir, who is also a senator, assured them that they would be invited for April 27 meeting where senators are meeting student leaders and V-C would be requested to hold an open house meeting with them.
The university is going through its worst financial crisis and had recently hiked its tuition fee substantially.
From 10.30am onwards, the members of the SFS started moving from class to class in the Arts Block and made students to boycott classes. By 11.30am, students gathered outside the vice-chancellor’s office.
Despite other parties refusing to support them due to stone pelting on April 11, when all were together, SFS managed a crowd of around 100. Students raised slogans against the vice-chancellor and for called for rollback of fee hike.
Jagjit Kaur, SFS leader, sang revolutionary songs. Amritpal Singh, another SFS leader, said, “We have seen what happens to peaceful protest. In 2014, we sat on hunger strike against fee hike but no one listened to us. Nine students were booked for molesting woman police personnel.” He added that they wanted to make education affordable to children of farmers and labourers.
After half an hour, dean students welfare, Prof Emanual Nahar and acting dean university instructions, Prof Rajat Sandhir, came to talk to students but they pressed to meet the vice-chancellor. Students questioned them on i-card checking at the gates, alleged police high handedness and attendance shortage. There was hooting too. A student questioned why outsiders couldn’t come and protest at the varsity when it was a public place. The talks failed while students continued to raise slogans. They were told that V-C was not in the town.
When Prof Sandhir came for the second time, SFS supporters demanded that they should be allowed to sit in the shade. They were told to take their protest to a space in the nearby park where NSUI students were sitting but they refused. They continued to sit for more than 3.5 hours on road under the sun.
When Prof Sandhir came for the third time he managed to broker peace and the protest was wrapped. The SFS supporters were told that there was hearing in apex court on April 24 and a meeting with Punjab government on April 25 and also a meeting with UGC on April 26.
They were also invited for talks on April 27 when a group of 10 senators are meeting all students’ parties.