MUMBAI: Students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here have resorted to relay hunger strike on Monday for their demand of roll back of unjustified massive fee hike.
The students, who formed a forum named ‘Students Against Fee Hike’, had resorted to a huge protest rally on June 22. “We were hoping that the administration would come forward and discuss the issues with us. However, that has not happened as yet and so we have decided to go on a hunger strike,” a student participant requesting anonymity told the New Indian Express.
“While the protest on June 22 garnered large participation from students, the reaction from certain quarters of the administration and faculty was vitriolic. Some students have been warned by their professors against participating in the protests against fee hike. They have been threatened with dire consequences if they strike or protest. It also appears that the administration is considering a clampdown on the activities. We are wrongly being implicated as trouble makers on campus, even though all we are trying to do is build a more progressive and democratic environment on campus,” said the student.
A fee hike of around Rs 17,000 to Rs 22,000 per year depending upon the course and category has been proposed, said students.
“Last year tuition fees for undergraduate course were hiked by 120 per cent, while this time the gymkhana fees was hiked by 166 per cent. Many of these hikes are non-transparent,” the students said, adding that this is being done as the government is cutting down on the public spending on education. “We are also protesting the wrong policy of the government,” they added.
However, the administration has justified the hike. In a mail sent to students, Dean of Student Affairs Soumyo Mukherji said that the hike is in non-tuition fees and are not at all arbitrary as they are happening after a gap of at least six years and in some cases 20 years.
Mukherji had, while justifying the fee hike, also pointed out in his email that the salaries of the PHD students have increased from Rs 8,000-9,000 to Rs 25,000-Rs 29,000 in past 12 years.