Ever since Panjab University decided to hike tuition fee, student groups have been protesting against the decision. Earlier, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and Students for Society (SFS) had protested over the issue. But later protests brought all student bodies together and their ire was targeted against the vice-chancellor and the Modi government. Even college students have joined protests, though there is no hike in college fees. But they say they have to pay when they would come to PU. Hindustan Times talked to SFS president Damanpreet Singh regarding the fee hike and other related issues. Here is what he said:
If PU rolls back fee hike, how will it pay salaries?
The question is framed wrongly. We (the varsity authorities) have submitted before the Central government. We have to stop dancing to the Centre’s tune.
What will you do if the decision is not reversed?
Social changes will happen as marginalised sections will not come to study at the university. Students will prevent this privatisation model from happening. The varsity says it has provided concessions for EWS. Students come in cars and can pay. Education is not a commodity. It is a social right and both the rich and poor should have equal access.
Do you support central university status for PU?
IITs and NITs have also hiked fee manifold. The issue is of policy and also of why now? If, after converting PU into a central university, the government refuses funding, then the varsity is left in the lurch.
Your call has united all student bodies?
A protest is not anyone’s property. We want all to participate.