Assam Women's University students' indefinite strike enter 22nd day, Minister says no mention of Vice Chancellor in Act
State government has not violated the act as there is no mention of the post of VC in it, regular teachers were not appointed as no advertisements were given for the purpose, Education Minister said
GUWAHATI: As the Assam Women's University student's indefinite strike for a permanent vice-chancellor entered its 23rd day today, state Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the assembly that there is no mention of the post in the Assam Women's University Act, 2013.
The state government has not violated the act as there is no mention of the post of vice-chancellor in it and regular teachers were not appointed as no advertisements were given for the purpose, he said.
Abdul Khaleq of Congress had raised the issue in the assembly and questioned why a permanent VC had not been appointed though about five years had passed since the University, the only one of its kind in the north east, began classes.
He also said that the government is trying to close down the university when Sarma himself as education minister in the erstwhile Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government had passed the Assam Women's University Bill in 2013.
Sarma in his reply said, "The state government has not violated the Assam Women's University Act as there is no mention of the post of vice-chancellor in the Act.
"Tarun Gogoi was the Chief of the University as per the Act (which states chief minister is the head of the institution).
Why did Gogoi not appoint a VC then ?" Stating there are no professors but assistant professors only on contractual and ad-hoc basis in the university, Sarma said no advertisements were given for appointment to the regular posts.
He said Assam Agricultural University Vice-chancellor and registrar have been functioning as the Women's University's mentor and registrar respectively.
There are 74 teachers in the University, besides 15 non teaching staff on contractual and ad-hoc basis, Sarma said adding they do not receive UGC scale salaries.
The University has been witnessing indefinite stir by its students since March 5 for a permanent VC and against downgrading it to a technical institute.
The students had also held a 36-hour hunger strike from March 19.
Speaker Hiten Goswami addressing a press meet in the Assembly premises appealed to the media to have a positive outlook on the subject "so that a negative message does not go out".
Constructive discussion should be held on the issue in the House, he said adding the students of the University should withdraw their agitation.
According to AWU Students' Forum President Chinmoyee Gogoi, the students want a written undertaking from the government on the appointment of a permanent VC and transforming the institute into a full-fledged university.
On March 23 former Tarun Gogoi visited the campus and lent his support to the agitation.
After his visit Gogoi had tweeted: "Assam Women's University was one of my dream project for empowering the women.
It is not only a pride of Assam but of the whole country.
Assam BJP Govt's decision on AWU exposes the hollow promises of flagship program 'BetiBachaoBetiPadhao' ".
Protests had been held across upper Assam in support of the AWU students.
Effigies of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Sarma were burnt and nearly 175 colleges under Dibrugarh University organised satyagraha marches.
The agitation has garnered support from students and teachers of JNU, TISS, BHU, NEHU, IIT-Kharagpur, Jadavpur University and Sikkim University among others.