Published: 20th November 2018
Why women students of Rajasthan Central University covered their faces during the campus' first-ever protest
This was the first protest that the nine-year-old university witnessed, ten students have been expelled
A group of women sat in protest outside the Central University of Rajasthan's office in October. Their message and demands were loud and clear — 'Say no to inequality', a placard read. 'We are asking for out Fundamental Right to Privacy', read another. But there was something that set these women apart. All of them had their faces covered, all wrapped up in dupattas, the authorities only saw their eyes that sparkled with the cry for freedom and also, fear.
Student uprising and protests are not new to us. The premier universities and institutions in the country have witnessed numerous protests since the pre-Independence era. Seven decades have passed since the country achieved independence, but the photographs of the women protestors in the Central University of Rajasthan, who covered their faces in the recent protests shows us the fearful atmosphere that prevails in some campuses.
This was probably the first protest that the nine-year-old university had witnessed. Since the students feared serious consequences from the authorities, none of the women revealed their identity. The students were demanding the removal of the biometric attendance and surveillance, an abolition of curfew, a democratic election to the students' union, a 24*7 functioning library, proper food, water and sanitation.
Forcefully evicted, dragged out and beaten up
A month down the line in November, ten students, Mukesh Kharwal, Balakrishna Kumawat, Prabhanshu Kajla, Raghuveer Dan Charan, Rahul, Heena Chaudhry, Renu, Prihanshi Rana and Karishma claimed that they were forcefully evicted from the hostels. The men were allegedly forcefully dragged out of the hostels, beaten up by the security guards and were rusticated from the university. The students were set to write their semester examinations on November 26 and are now in a state of emotional turmoil.
"We live in constant fear inside the university. They have put false allegations against most of the students. Even a student who was sleeping inside her hostel room is now evicted," says Mukesh, a second-year MA Hindi student. He was one among the students who were expelled from the university for allegedly breaking the glass door. But Mukesh denied the university's claims and says that he was being targetted for standing up against oppressive rules.
The students have lodged a complaint with the police against the university's authorities for assault. Also, a petition signed by 550 students including all the student representatives were sent to the university administration against the decision. The students have now been asked to present their case on November 22.
"I'm barred from writing my exam," says Mukesh. "Also, it is difficult for the girls who've been evicted, because the university is really far from Ajmer city and there are no hostels or PG accommodations nearby," he adds.
The student protestors were backed by Pinjra Tod, an autonomous women's collective. "CURAJ has not seen much resistance. It's a decentralised campus," says Avantika Tewari, a member of the organisation. "They created a repressive atmosphere where men and women were individually called for an inquiry," she adds.
The expelled students were sent a notice today asking them to appeal their case in front of the Students Discipline Committee on November 22.
The university's Proctor was unavailable for a reaction.