Pondicherry University students go on indefinite strike against 'campus saffronisation'; exams suspended
Organised under the united banner of seven students organisations, students said that the authorities have taken away their right to peacefully organise and protest through a new set of rules.
Accusing the Pondicherry University administration of promoting saffronisation and thereby muddling the secular fabric of the campus, over 400 students went on an indefinite strike from the Gate 2 of the institution. The protestors, under the united banner of seven students' organisations, alleged that the authorities have taken away their right to free speech and right to peacefully organise and protest through a new set of rules and regulations.
If their demand for a meeting is denied, the protestors are planning to gherao the administrative block and the University Vice-Chancellor, another student said. However, a conversation between the University Registrar and the student-representatives ended midway without any resolutions. A second-round of talks are expected to happen soon, a protestor said.
Their other demands included better security for female students, proper supply of drinking water and access to wifi connection on the campus. The students said that they will not disperse until the authorities come out and address their demands.
Following the agitation, the varsity has suspended the internal examinations which were scheduled to begin on Monday, a campaigner said.
"From the beginning of this academic year, the administration has passed new rules banning all political activities unless organised by the students' union. No gatherings are permitted after 6:30 PM," said Abhijeet Sudhakaran, a first-year MA South Asian Studies student.
Meanwhile, sources said police personnel have reached the campus.
The protestors carried a notice board which was earlier put up in the Aurobindo girls hostel, where a 'pro-Hindu' quote of Sri Aurobindo was displayed. Some students had earlier taken out the poster and replaced it with another saying, "This is a Central University and not a RSS Office." The student leaders reportedly addressed the gathering by holding the board upside down and said that the attempts to divide the students on the basis of socio-cultural parameters will be resisted. It was from the same hostel that the protesting students started their procession to the gate.
"SFI had earlier conducted a protest march in the campus extending PU's solidarity to the students of the Central University of Kerala, who are fighting the attempts to saffronise the institution. The support this programme received among the students motivated other organisations to come out and protest against our own administration. All other major organisations except the ABVP are part of this protest," Abhijeet added.
NSUI, ASA, AISF, APSF, SIO and MSF are the other organisations participating in the strike.
The students also alleged that the authorities are promoting Hindutva agenda in the campus with the support of the ABVP. They also accused the varsity for publishing state-wise list of inhabitants outside each hostel building, which they say, is a move to create division among the student fraternity.
"Initially we thought the campus wifi connections were down due to some technical glitch and hence included it in our demands. But later we learned that the connection was working fine in the administrative block, but was purposefully switched off everywhere else to curb our communications in order to break down the protest," said Ajmal Rasheed of the SFI.