Darjeeling, June 8: The Students' Union Council of Darjeeling Government College has held up the admission process by launching an indefinite strike.
This, at a time when all other colleges across the state have already started the procedure to admit students to undergraduate courses for this academic year.
The students, who have launched the agitation since May 30, have been demanding the appointment of a full-fledged principal since the officer-in-charge 'does not enjoy the powers of a principal'. According to them, only a principal can ensure 'an improvement in the overall academic standard' in the college. They even went ahead and broke a few windowpanes of the building today and locked the principal's chamber.
'Despite intimating the higher authorities about our grievances, the government has done nothing. We will continue our strike till our demands are fulfilled,' said Milan Pradhan, the general secretary of the students' council. 'We plan to ask other institutions to support us.'
College authorities, however, made it clear that they have completed their bit of the admission procedure, and it were the students who were holding up the process. North Bengal University has set July 24 as the last date for seeking admission without fine and July 30 for admission with fine. 'We have finished our bit and have even formed a committee for the admission,' said Lalita Rai Ahmed, the officer-in-charge of the college.
The other demands of the students included filling up of 40-odd vacant posts, renovation of the boys' hostel, regularisation of services of two teachers working here for almost a decade, and putting a stop to teachers from plains attending the college for only around 20 days a month.
'We have nothing against the plains teachers. We will not even protest if the principal is appointed from the plains. We only want the academic standards of the college to improve,' said Alok Kant Mani Thulung, president, GNSF Darjeeling Branch Committee, which controls the students' union here.
Ahmed, today said the authorities had already informed the government about the demands. 'I took charge in July, 2005 and since then I have been raising these demands. The PWD has already floated a tender for renovation of the boys' hostel,' she said. She added that the appointment letter for the officer-in-charge stated that the official was given 'full administrative and financial powers as that of the principal', contrary to the students' claim. 'Six new teachers have joined the chemistry department and quite a few in other departments,' she said.
Maintaining that the matter was 'sub-judice', college officials refused to comment on the regularisation of the two teachers serving here for almost a decade.