Pic: Student shared
Pic: Student shared

SAU students to stage protest march today; to continue hunger strike

As many as 82 students participated in a mass hunger strike on November 7 and eight of them are on an indefinite hunger strike since then

Within a few more days, it will be a month since the South Asian University students started agitating for an increase in stipend for Master's students and the formation of a student representation body. Although protests and strikes took place, the students are going to stage a protest march on the college premises today around 2 pm. 

When EdexLive spoke to a MA Sociology student Keshav Sawarn, he listed out five demands. 

Demands
1. Increase in stipend for master's students to Rs 7,000 thousand 

2. JRF (Junior Research Fellowship) parity for international students. 

3. Student representation body 

4. Economic slab in the stipend. Students whose family income is below Rs 5 lakh per annum should be awarded freeship with stipend. Students with family income between Rs 5 lakh per annum and Rs 6 lakh per annum should be awarded freeship (full fee waiver). Students with family income between Rs 6 lakh per annum and Rs 8 lakh per annum be awarded freeship (half fee waiver)

5. Revoke all the expulsion and suspension notices

Hunger strike
As many as 82 students participated in a mass hunger strike on November 7 and eight of them have been on an indefinite hunger strike since then. 

On the night of November 4, two students were expelled and three others were suspended for "persistently involved in acts of indiscipline inconsistently with the relevant provisions of SAU Rules/ Regulations / Bye-laws," as stated in the expulsion orders. When asked about this, Keshav informed EdexLive that two of the suspended students are also on an indefinite hunger strike from November 7 and the faculty has stepped forward by writing letters to extend their support to the suspended ones. 

When asked Keshav if there was any response from the administration or officials, he said, "No. They are asking us to vacate the fourth floor where we have been protesting near the administration block. They said after that they are ready to discuss. But we are not ready to vacate as it is strategically not possible."

Although the college officials alleged that the students are going back and forth with their demands, the students claim that their demands have been the same from the very beginning. Moreover, the students clarified that only two demands were added later following the university's order of expulsion and suspension of students. They are: revoking the orders and resignation of the President, Vice-President and Proctor of the university.

To recall, the students started protests on October 13, 2022, seeking an increase in scholarship stipend from the existing Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000. SAU predominantly admits students from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

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