The strike by the students of local Khalsa College of Engineering and Technology continued as they boycotted classes to protest against what they termed as the "suffocating atmosphere" prevailing on the campus due to the "autocratic style of functioning of the college authorities, particularly of director RPS Sukerchakia" and holding of classes on holidays without any break for weeks together.
The students had gone on strike on September 26 and continued with the protest the following day. Hoping to break the strike, the college authorities had announced on September 27 that the college would re-open on October 3.
However, this was proved wrong as the students once again re-grouped on Wednesday at the college canteen and refused to attend classes despite the presence of a number of policemen on the campus.
Even as they continued with their criticism of the director, they sent out a signal that they were ready to solve the issue and go back to their classes provided the management agreed to address their grievances, particularly those related to the alleged rude behaviour of the director.
In a letter addressed to the Khalsa College Management Committee and signed by 309 students, they stated that their relations with the director were not at all cordial. They alleged that Sukerchakia was in the habit of threatening them with rustication from the college.
"The director has been misusing his position to deter the students and has been hurling threats at us. He claims to be the sole authority of the institute," the letter stated while claiming that even their genuine problems were not addressed by the director.
"We are regularly paying for our studies and so the management is duty-bound to listen to our grievances and protect our rights. The director has no care even for basic human rights and this can be verified from the interactions between the students and the authorities at the college grievance committee meetings," the letter stated.
In the letter, the students have expressed the desire to negotiate so that the college once again starts functioning in a smooth manner. But at the same time, they have warned that they are no longer ready to face "unwarranted harassment" at the hands of the director. The students also claimed that in whatever institute Sukerchakia had served, there had been strikes by students.
The students also complained about the lack of infrastructure at the department labs and claimed that most of the computers were not in working condition and there was no WiFi connectivity, against the promise made to them. They also rued the fact that there were no hostel facilities, which the authorities had promised would come up soon.
Meanwhile, the Khalsa College Management Committee has expressed its openness to solve the problem of the students so as to end the strike.
Managing committee honorary secretary RMS Chhina, who was out of station, was informed of the letter forwarded by the students. He has expressed his willingness to find a solution to the ongoing strike.
In a press release, Sukerchakia said the decision to take extra classes was taken in the interests of the students as the academic session was short.
"Most of students are ready to take these classes, but unfortunately a few of them are not willing to take extra classes from 5pm to 6pm. We will find alternative ways to help the students. There are some general requirements of the students relating to some other facilities which are also being taken care of," the release said. The director advised the students to rejoin their classes and that it was not advisable to disturb the normal healthy academic environment of the college.