Published: 21st June 2022
DU protest reaches new heights: Plans made to burn effigies. Police detain students
The protest was organised over the St Stephen's College admission row. The students planned to burn the effigies of St Stephen’s College's Principal and DU's VC
The students of the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) have been staging a sit-in protest in front of the Arts Faculty at Delhi University (DU). They are demanding for St Stephen’s College to roll back its prospectus in order to ensure an egalitarian admission process and have raised other demands also. As their sit-in protest enters its 15th day today, on June 21, the students have taken their protest to a next level and organised an effigy burning event in front of the Arts Faculty Main Gate.
The event was organised at 3 pm. The students planned to burn the effigies of John Varghese, the principal of St Stephen’s College, and Yogesh Singh, the Vice-Chancellor of DU. According to a poster shared by the KYS students about this protest, the effigy burning was organised by them “against St Stephen’s College and DU’s unconcerned attitude towards deprived students”. However, Delhi police arrived at the spot and detained students.
St Stephen’s College has been criticised for its admission policy which stated that it would conduct the admissions through CUET, but the CUET score would carry only a 85% weightage and the rest 15% weightage would lie with the interviews conducted by the college. DU’s administration had issued a notice to the college to withdraw its policy and conduct the admissions on the basis of CUET scores only. But since the college is a minority institution, it has been adamant on maintaining the interview criteria. This has invited the ire of students, faculty and other concerned groups. The tussle between the college and the others reached the Delhi High Court earlier this year. The court had advised the college to abide by the university’s guidelines, but St Stephen’s had refused. The cause will be heard at the court again in July.
Speaking about the issue, Mudita, a student of Political Science at DU and a member of KYS, says, “St Stephen’s has an elitist discrimination policy. Every year, the college conducts an interview with a 15% weightage. But this year, the whole university has adopted a common method of admission. The college should do so as well, but it has been sticking to its interview criteria. The interview ascertains how the students from underprivileged backgrounds can be further declined admissions. So we want the interview criteria (which is mentioned in the college prospectus) to be rolled back.”
She adds, “But we are protesting for some of our long-standing demands as well. We want the seats to be increased in the university and new colleges to be opened. It is a government-funded institution and should be accessible to all. But due to the lack of seats students wishing to take admission here are left out. It’s the same 60,000 seats every year. Due to this the students from the deprived section of the society, the government school students, are debarred. If seats are increased more students can enter the university."
Continuing with their list of demands, she says, “We also want evening classes to be started in the colleges under DU. Some colleges are currently running evening classes, so it is a practical model. We have the infrastructure as well. If evening classes are conducted, more students will be able to attend the classes at the university. It will benefit students from the deprived sections. Another of our demands is that 20% deprivation points should be awarded to the students from government schools. This will help more of them to take admission here. At present, the university awards ECA points (points for extra-curricular activities). But ECA points are meant for the privileged groups."
The KYS students have been putting forth these demands to the university administration for a long time now. But no action has been taken yet and the students resorted to protest. Mudita informs that many government school students and other students from the deprived sections in Delhi also join them every day in the sit-in protest. Last week, on June 15, there was a police crackdown on their protest. “The college has been attempting to physically remove us from the protest site. Last Wednesday, a large number of government school students from around Delhi had joined us and they burnt the college prospectus in front of the Arts Faculty. The police arrived. And especially after that day, the university and the police have been trying to act against us,” she says.
The Delhi police intervened in today’s effigy-burning protest as well. According to information shared by Harish Gautam, another KYS member, female activists, some of them not students, were beaten and manhandled. He additionally informed that more than 30 students and activists, including school students were detained by the police.
“The administration has been pushing the police to take action against us. But we have stayed strong. We will continue the struggle and hit back stronger. We will ensure that this university becomes an egalitarian space. It is a genuine demand. The university has been apathetic to our cause. When the protest was first held, the administration had refused to take our memorandum. If it continues to turn a blind eye, even after today’s protest, we have planned to take the issue to the Ministry of Education. The protest will take other forms. It is a pity that we have to bring up these issues to the university’s notice through protests, whereas the university and administrations should have themselves taken steps to sort these out,” Mudita concludes.