Watch | Students cane-charged in Panjab University, Section 144 imposed
Students protesting in Panjab University were cane-charged on Thursday after they broke through barricades and gate crashed vice chancellor’s (VC) office.
Deputy commissioner of Chandigarh (DC) Ajit Balaji Joshi imposed Section 144 in Punjab University after hundreds of students from Government College for Girls (GCG), sector 11, held a massive protest on the Panjab University (PU) campus over the tuition fee hike issue, bringing the varsity functioning to a complete halt for nearly four hours.
According to sources, talks between VC and students to rollback increased tuition fee have failed.
On Wednesday, the protest started around 7am at GCG where the girl students were holding placards and protesting over the hike in tuition fee which is even up to 10 times for some courses.
The protesting students, whose number swelled in the next couple of hours, started walking toward the PU campus where they reached 10am. Male students from DAV College, Sector 10, and Postgraduate Government College, Sector 11, also joined the protest. Later on, some campus students also joined them.
FINAL-YEAR STUDENTS CONCERNED
The protesters, many of whom were final-year students, said the hike would hit them hard as they will be taking admission at the university for the 2017-18 academic session.
Earlier at the GCG campus, the protesting girls closed the gate. The police personnel entered into a scuffle with the girls and thrashed some of them. Five male students — including three from PU campus, one from PGC-11— were detained and clothes of a couple of girls got torn, enraging the students.
Several girls along with male students of DAV College and PGGC then marched to gherao the PU vice-chancellor’s office.
As they reached the university campus, a posse of police peronnel, including female cops, had barricaded the road to the V-C office. V-C Prof AK Grover was not in his office.
The students raised slogans against the V-C and the varsity followed by angry speeches.
PUSU, NSUI, SFS, SOI ALSO JOIN
Campus-based student organisations such as the Students for Society (SFS), the National Student Union of India (NSUI), the Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) and the Students Organisation of India (SOI) also joined them.
The protesters gave the police an ultimatum of 10 minutes to release their fellow students who were detained earlier or threatened to break the barricades.
Inspector Lakhvir Singh called the staff at the police station, asked to release Raminder, Buta Singh and Harry, all PU students, Vijay Kumar, a PGC-11 student, and Gurjeet.
The girls demanded that they should be brought to the protest spot. Aman, a PU French student who had gone to GCG to support protesting students there, said, “The male police personnel molested the girls and tore my clothes. The police tried to arrest me but the girls overwhelmed the cops and pulled me back.”
“The authorities are not even allowing peaceful protests. Earlier, we had submitted five memorandums to the V-C to roll back fee hike, but to no avail,” she said. SFS leader Damanpreet said, “Fee for MBA course has been hiked from Rs 9,400 to Rs 1 lakh and that of law from Rs 4,000 to Rs 20,000. The BA fee has been hiked from Rs 2,200 to Rs 10,000.”
SOI campus president Prabhjit Kamruwala said, “New students have been burdened. The university should be centralised to tide over financial crisis.”
PUSU president Nirjog Mann said, “We are being made to pay for the teachers’ salaries.”
STUDENTS THREATEN TO ESCALATE STIR
Mridula Mahajan of BA-final year student at GCG, said “The strength of protesters will increase in the coming days and their parents will also join the protest.”
Raminder Singh, one of those detained earlier, also reached the spot. “We were let off because we are united. We have to chalk out the future strategy.”
The SFS is protesting on Thursday at 11am while NSUI is already running a chain hunger strike.