Published: 25th March 2021
EFLU students call off protest after Telangana govt orders colleges to shut down due to COVID-19 spike
The Education Minister had specified that all hostels of schools and colleges, both public and private except medical colleges would be closed
The students of English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) have decided to call off their protests after the Telangana government ordered a temporary shutdown of all educational institutions due to the spike in COVID-19 cases over the last few days. The student body at EFLU has been demanding that the hostel, mess and reading room facilities be reopened for students who were struggling to cope with studies while living outside campus. A survey that had been conducted had found that 61 per cent of students they had interviewed had been facing a range of issues and urgently needed hostels to reopen.
The police were also called on campus earlier this month in order to disperse the protestors but the students had carried on the protests. But with the Telangana government’s new order, the student body has changed its mind. The Education Minister had specified that all hostels of schools and colleges, both public and private except medical colleges would be closed.
“What this means for our movement is that we are not in a position to proceed with our protest activities for now. Section 3.2 (i) of the latest UGC guidelines for reopening of campuses (dated Nov 5, 2020) makes it a prerequisite for central universities too that “the concerned State Government must have declared the area safe for reopening of educational institutions”, the students said. The students issued a statement about the issue pointing out that the latest government order did not mark out any specific regions as unsafe, "It has ordered a state-level shut down of educational institutions, which comes with the possible legal implication that Telangana as a whole is currently unsafe for educational institutions to be open. Whether the order may be interpreted differently is a matter to be fought out in courts.”
However, the students say that regardless of the law, it was important to note that public universities had ‘repeatedly deserted the common masses’, “The fact remains that the Indian state and its institutions, including public universities, have repeatedly deserted the common masses (including students) and forced them to fend for themselves. Asking students to simply remain in their homes is to leave them on their own without any institutional support. Public universities must do more, including facilitating a safe environment at least for those who are most vulnerable in their homes due to socio-economic and other factors,” the students argued.
The students called for the student movement to widen and not be restricted to one of two universities. However, for now the students had decided to call off the protest, “While there may be too few academic days left for final year students to hope to reenter the hostels, the demand for hostel reopening will remain pertinent for the majority of the student body. Also, given the anti-student ways of the EFLU administration, they may not make any plans or preparations to reopen the hostels and other essential amenities even after the state government reopens its educational institutions, in which case we will have to resume our struggle.” The students will be continuing their student mobilisation online till the campus reopens.