MUMBAI: The protest against withdrawal of financial aid given to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) scholars at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) continued for the fourth day on Saturday with the agitating students refusing to back down.
The Students Union is protesting since Wednesday against the withdrawal of financial aid to the Government of India-Post Matriculation Scholarship (GOI-PMS) students from SC/ST category across all the campuses of the institute.
Though the institute's administration offered some concessions, the students said they were not enough.
"On Thursday, the administration had agreed to exempt the SC/ST students of the 2016-18 batch from paying the hostel and dining hall fees," Professor P.K. Shahjahan, Dean, Office of Students' Affairs at TISS told IANS.
"If they are not able to pay now, they can pay it later when they get a job or scholarship is credited to their account. They will be allowed to appear for their examinations," he said.
However, a Union leader rejected this offer. "The 2016-18 batch SC/ST students have been told that they need not pay the fees now, but after they get jobs. Payment has been postponed not waived off," the student leader said, adding that the administration has not promised any relief for the OBC students and students of the 2017-2019 batch and upcoming batches.
The students decided to continue with their protest till the demands are fulfilled, even as the TISS administration said that they have not stopped any scholarships and are strictly following all government guidelines.
"The scholarship is a matter between the government and the students, the institute has no role either in the sanction or disbursement of the scholarships. The GOI-PMS is paid by the Social Welfare Department/Tribal Welfare Department of the respective state directly to the student," Shahjahan said.
"As per the government rule, we are not charging any course fee from the students of reserved category. They are only required to pay dining hall charges and hostel fees," he said.
"We are working to find resources and hope that we will be in a position to provide further subsidisation for the coming batches as well," he added.
The Post Matric Scholarship scheme is a centrally sponsored Scheme implemented by the state governments, providing financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education.
On Wednesday, after securing a successful shut down of all classes in the campus, around 500 students gathered at the TISS main gate and blocked the gate here.
Since then, the protesting students have been sitting at the main gate of the campus, even sleeping there at night.
TISS students at the Hyderabad, Guwahati and Tuljapur campuses also held protests.
The students are getting the support of TISS SC/ST Employee's Welfare Association and the TISS Teachers' Association. They are also being supported by TISS Alumni along with students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Delhi University Student Union, All India Students' Association, among others.