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Varsity unrest order of the day

- ‘Most often, activists don’t know what they are fighting for’

Attendance over 90 per cent, productivity zero.

That sums up Friday for Ranchi University, that saw back-to-back students’ union agitations, stalling classes for the entire day.

The morning’s syndicate meeting had to be called off because of two impromptu agitations. The first one was by All Jharkhand Students Union (Ajsu), raising several demands like conduct of students’ union polls, better drinking water and toilet facilities and sacking of the registrar.

This was followed by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) members protest to demand termination of Nursing College principal as students alleged they had been deliberately failed in the 3rd semester exams and immediate arrest of ABVP members who vandalised the VC’s office on Thursday.

For Ranchi University V-C L.N. Bhagat that sadly is the story of most of his work days.

In the last two months, the university and its allied colleges have seen over a dozen instances of violent unrest primarily by so-called student union leaders — in reality they aren’t even students — who are ready to inflict all kinds of damage to property without provocation.

Instead of constructive criticism, political outfits in the garb of fighting for students’ welfare, have made the university a soft target.

“Activism isn’t bad in a university set-up. Students’ unions form an integral part of any university. However, there isn’t any scope for vandalism. It is often misunderstood these days,” rued pro vice chancellor V.P. Sharan.

The problem with the present crop of student activists, noted a syndicate member, was that they did not know what they were supposed to be fighting for. “The only reason they come here in the name of protest is because other unions have done the same and got media coverage. For example, on Thursday, ABVP acted violently, so NSUI and Ajsu did not want to be left behind and showed their strength on Friday,” he added.

But union members claimed the university had never worked in the interest of students and that’s why they were required to step in. “No one believes in violence but till the time one doesn’t throw stones and talk tough officials don’t listen. We don’t like this, but the university itself invites such ire on it,” claimed Shamim of NSUI.

Harish of Ajsu listed his grievances. “For the last year we have been demanding a detailed investigation into financial irregularities in the university, toilets and drinking water facilities for students and termination of the registrar for financial irregularities. But, forget about acting, the university wasn’t even listening to us,” he said.

A senior member of the faculty criticised unions, but did not absolve the university either. “A university should lead by example and not make students shout about everything. That’s where it has failed. Basic stuff like classrooms, benches, books, timely exams and declaration of results are students’ right, but nothing is in order at present,” he said, but clarified that he did not support vandalism as a means to an end.

“Unless Ranchi University chooses to introspect, things are only going to get worse. Students would suffer the most.”