Published: 17th September 2018
No saffronisation at Pondicherry University, says management. Students celebrate victory after a day-long strike
Students have stated that the committee that met with the students has promised to not take any action against them as they were apparently demanding their rights and not violating any rules
Students of Pondicherry University have claimed that after a two-hour-long meeting, Professor Gurmeet Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the Pondicherry University came to terms with the demands of the protesting students. Around 600 students from seven different democratic student organisations who had been protesting since September 16, against the alleged saffronisation of the university have withdrawn the protest after 24 hours and conducted a victory march in the campus.
A statement issued by the university authorities read:
"Pondicherry University is a secular institution imparting quality higher education to students and Research Scholars from all parts of the country irrespective of any religion, caste or creed. We firmly deny there are any .move of saffronisation of the University Campus. Steps are being taken by the University authorities to provide WiFi facility at Aurobindo Hostel. All the other places have 24x7 WiFi connectivity. Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Gurmeet Singh and Registrar Dr Sasi Kanta Dash are working tirelessly to improve all-round facilities and existing infrastructure in the interest of students community."
The committee that met with the students, which included the VC, the registrar and the deans of major schools, has also allegedly promised to not take any action against them, as they were demanding their rights and not violating any rules. "Previously, there was also a curfew that demanded students to stay indoors after 6 pm and all sorts of political activities were banned as well. But the authorities have now indirectly allowed meetings post 6 pm. We're happy with this democratic stand of the university," said MJ Sreejith, a second-year student of Integrated MSc in Economics.
The protesters who had alleged that the authorities have curbed their freedom to protest peacefully also said that while the university authorities denied installation of RO filters to provide clean drinking water inside the hostels, they've been splurging on beautification of the campus as the NAAC members are due to pay them a visit. "The university hostels are not proper and there is no clean drinking water or proper meals provided to the students. So why are the authorities spending on unnecessary beautification and not concentrating on the real issues?" asked A Anand, a student and also a member of the SFI Central Executive Committee.
And what of the claims of saffronisation? Recently, the university authorities had also allegedly placed a photograph of Sri Aurobindo in the Women's Hostel with a quote that read, "That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion because it embraces all others." Agitated students had demanded that the photograph be taken down. "This was a pro-Hindu move and that is what sparked off the protest," said Sreejith. They then replaced it with a poster, "This is a Central University and not an RSS Office."
The other demands included proper WiFi facilities, better infrastructure, the establishment of a student body to deal with sexual harassment and installation of sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators in the women hostel.
Here is the entire list of demands:
A few months ago, there was also an agitation in the university alleging saffronisation, after a statue of Periyar was vandalised in Chennai and Lenin's in Tripura after the BJP came to power in the north-eastern state.