Aliah University students have been protesting for over a month. And one of their issues involves cattle

While the varsity has accepted the demand for a fee waiver, they are still in negotiations with the students about other issues
Images from the students protests | Pic: Specially arranged by Edexlive
Images from the students protests | Pic: Specially arranged by Edexlive

Students of Kolkata's Aliah University have been protesting for more than a month and one of their demands is quite unusual. For at least the last five years, they say the varsity's main gate has been hijacked by cattle - leading to unsanitary conditions all around.

There are three campuses located in three different areas - Taltala, Park Circus and New Town - not too far away from each other. The issue of cows is a problem at the Taltala campus, where the Theology Department and the main office is situated. "The locals there tie them up at the university gates and the varsity does nothing about it. Several students face a problem because of this," says Suraiya Parvin, a second-year student of MA Bengali. The varsity has a rich history and heritage, it was set up in October 1780.

Image of the cattle being tied up to the varsity gate. Pic: Specially arranged by Edexlive

Are there enough hostels? 
Apart from that, the university has only three hostels and two of them are for women. There has been a demand for an increase in the number of hostels to accommodate more students. Students tell us that the varsity administration has been promising new hostels on the 3.30 acres of empty land under its control, which is opposite the Park Circus campus. However, the students claim that last month, the Minority Affairs & Madrasa Education Department, under the state government, decided to hand over their promised land to Calcutta Medical College to expand its infrastructure, as the medical college is nearby to the varsity's Park Circus campus.

Sajidur Rehman is a 25-year-old final year student of MA Arabic, he completed his undergraduate degree from the same institute. He says, "I come from a very poor family in Murshidabad. When I got here in 2016, I had to spend a few nights on the roads because I was denied access to a hostel." He adds that the hostels are allotted on a merit basis and a special priority is given to students with disabilities. Rehman picked up multiple odd jobs to manage to pay his rent for the accommodation which is about 15 km away from the university. The decision of higher authorities to hand over the land to the medical college, coupled with other issues with the university administration, has aggrieved students like Rehman -- leading to the intense protest that has gone well over 35 days. 

On the anvil 
One of the demands that students had put forward was that of a fee waiver for this academic year. "When our protest entered its 30th day, which was by October end, the university decided to waive fees for one year," Parvin said. Among other things, the demands include filling up of 180 vacant teaching posts, an increase in the fellowship amount as several students come from deprived sections, and a coaching centre within the university for students to prepare for state level civil services examinations along with other competitive exams such as NET, SET and GATE.

What are the authorities saying?
Edexlive reached out to the Registrar of Aliah University, Syed Nurus Salam, for the varsity's comments on the matter. Salam said, "We are in discussion with them, they are ongoing right now as we speak."

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