Adivasi students lock Odisha college in protest of delayed stipends

College authorities claimed that though the Principal had apprised the District Welfare Officer about the issue, the stipend money is yet to reach the students
The students have alleged alck of action by the concerned college authorities (representative image)
The students have alleged alck of action by the concerned college authorities (representative image)

Hundreds of students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are on an indefinite strike in front of Maharaja Purna Chandra (MPC) Autonomous College against the delay in disbursal of stipend. 

The agitating graduate and post-graduate students under the banner of Mayurbhanj Adivasi Students' Association (MASA) have also locked the college gate. President of MASA, Suklal Marandi, alleged that SC/ST students of the college have not received their stipend for the last couple of years. 

"A large number of SC/ST students belong to financially weaker sections. The stipend sanctioned by the government helps them continue their studies. Any delay in disbursing the stipend money causes a lot of difficulties for them," Marandi said.

The agitating students further alleged that the college authorities are not doing the needful and are yet to raise the issue with the concerned department despite several missives in this regard, they rued. Mangal Hansda, one of the agitators, said, "Earlier, we had met District Welfare Officer (DWO) Krupasindhu Behera and apprised him of our problem. However, nothing has been done in this regard."

Principal, Madhusudan Sahu had assured the agitating students that he would coordinate with the officials concerned and facilitate early disbursal of their stipend money. Though two years have passed, most of the students are yet to get their stipend. Only a handful of SC/ST students received their stipend money last year while 70 to 80 per cent of the students were left out, the agitators said.

Contacted, DWO Behera admitted the delay and said the government has deposited one rupee in each bank account of SC/ST students to verify whether those are fake or real.

Stipend money will be credited to those bank accounts which have been updated and are in use. Moreover, the college authorities have asked the SC/ST students to submit fresh documents to avail the stipend, he added. Despite the DWO's assurance, the agitating students refused to budge from their stand. The strike was continuing till reports last came in.

(This article was first published in The New Indian Express)

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