South Asian University student "critical" as hunger strike enters day 8 

To recall, two students were expelled and three others were suspended on November 4 amidst protests on campus 
Image from the protest | Pic: Sourced
Image from the protest | Pic: Sourced

As the students of South Asian University (SAU) continue their month-long agitation for an increase in stipend for master's students and the formation of a student representation body, one of the students, Bhimraj M, has been hospitalised after he sat on a hunger strike for two days. Students have been informed that he is in critical condition.

"Bhimraj M, a third-year PhD student, was rusticated from this university arbitrarily, without having a single chance to defend himself," students said in a statement. To recall, two students were expelled and three others were suspended on November 4 for indulging in "acts of indiscipline inconsistently with the relevant provisions of SAU Rules/ Regulations / Bye-laws." Bhimraj was one of them.

One of the students, Umesh, who was also expelled, told EdexLive that the condition of the hospitalised student is critical. "Doctors told us that had he not been hospitalised immediately then he would have suffered a cardiac arrest," Umesh said. Umesh was on the second day of his hunger strike yesterday, November 13. Students demand that the "arbitrary" expulsion orders be revoked. "However, we have been asked to give an apology or an appeal first," Umesh said.

Among their major demands, students want an increase in scholarship stipend from the existing Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000. Additionally, they have also demanded an internal body that will address the grievances of students and which is fairly representative of the students on campus.

Meanwhile, officials from the university said that they are still trying to engage the students through dialogue. They had earlier told EdexLive that they had agreed to most of their demands that were put forth initially but the students “increased the stakes” later on. “The university tried to reason with them but they did not relent,” the officials said.

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