BENGALURU: In solidarity with researchers who were taken into preventive custody in Delhi for having protested in front of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) office on Wednesday, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers in Bengaluru went on a 12-hour hunger strike.
They were joined by researchers from seven other premier science institutes in the city, as they protested in front of the main building, from 8 am to 8 pm on Friday.
On Sunday, they will also form a human chain along the periphery of the campus, starting from the main gate. Gaurav Solra, secretary, students council, IISc, said, “Around 700-800 researchers out of 2,000 odd researchers, who were striking in front of MHRD office were picked up in buses to two different police stations, and were detained for three to four hours. This is no way to treat researchers. First of all, it was a silent protest, and secondly, they had police permission. They were bundled up on the flimsy grounds that their protest went beyond 4.30 pm.”
The research scholars who went on strike did not let their research work get affected by it. They carried their laptops and books to the area in front of the main building, and continued their work. It was a silent, non-violent protest. Most were seen wearing black or with black ribbons to show solidarity.”
It has been eight months since research scholars from various institutes like IISc, Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), central universities, and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs, have been protesting against the stipend being paid to them.
Researchers across India have been demanding a 80 per cent hike in their fellowship. Currently, the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) researchers get Rs 25,000 and senior research fellows get Rs 28,000. Timely disbursal of stipends is another issue faced by the researchers.
Tamasa De, a second year PhD Biological Science scholar, IISc, said, “Previously there would be a two-month lag in disbursal of stipend. But now, our funding has been stopped altogether. I haven’t received my stipend since September.”