Published: 14th November 2022
SAU: CPI Gen Secy writes to External Affairs Minister seeking intervention in students' hunger strike
"The SAU administration is handling the situation insensitively and is bearing no responsibility," a part of his letter reads
Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary D Raja has written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar seeking his intervention to stop the hunger strike by students of South Asian University (SAU) in Delhi. Eight students are on an indefinite hunger strike since November 7 at the varsity, demanding an increase in the Master's scholarship amount.
In his letter, Raja said that many students have fallen sick and have been hospitalised. "All students who are on hunger strike are reporting critically low levels of vitals. The SAU administration is handling the situation insensitively and is bearing no responsibility for the students' deteriorating health or their demands," the letter reads further, as per a report by PTI.
"The students are mentally and physically in a precarious position and the need for measures to be taken has become urgent at this point. The hunger strike has entered its eighth day when I write this letter," he wrote. "The students of SAU are demanding only the bare minimum," Raja said, adding that they were demanding a stipend of Rs 7,000 for Master's students from underprivileged backgrounds. The CPI leader alleged that the university has been cutting down scholarships available for students over the years. "The scholars pursuing PhD are demanding parity with JRF for the stipend and paid extension of one year for batches that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic," he said, as per PTI.
Raja further alleged that the university's internal work has remained opaque and the students were demanding representation in various committees like the University Complaint Committee, the Grievance Redressal Committee and the Gender Sensitization Committee against cases of sexual harassment. "Instead of listening and deliberating on the demands of peacefully protesting students, the university administration chose to call the police on the campus," he said.
"It is pertinent to mention here that this can have serious consequences. As it is an international university, calling law enforcement agencies is a matter of India's repute with neighbouring countries. The administration arbitrarily expelled two students, rusticated two others and suspended one without following any due process. The callous stance of the SAU administration has frustrated the students greatly," the letter states.
"It is clear that this matter requires urgent attention and utmost diligence. Hence, I request you to intervene and take up the matter with the university administration. Any lapse from the administration in this matter can result in serious consequences for the students sitting on hunger strike," the letter concludes.
Raja's letter also mentions the reputation of the university. "SAU was envisaged by the then prime minister of India at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka. The university which provides higher education in various disciplines attracts students not only from SAARC nations but from around the globe. This unique hub of international learning was a project to foster the spirit of regional integration and cooperation," he noted, as per PTI.