| Students protest at Patna Science College on Thursday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
More than 100 students led by union leaders defied Patna University vice-chancellor Y.C. Simahadri’s ban on all protests on the varsity campus by staging a demonstration at the main administrative block on Thursday for more than an hour.
The defiance came a day after Simahadri iterated his commitment banning all type of dharnas and processions on the campus, while addressing teachers at the Wheeler Senate Hall. He had warned to take disciplinary action against any student, teacher or non-teaching employee taking part in such activities.
The students’ protest was called on four issues — revoking the university decision of imposing Rs 50 fine on skipping classes a day without prior information to the college or department head, failure of the administration in allotment of hostel to students at Patna College, stopping the practice of double postgraduation degrees and banning dharna, procession or protest on the campus.
Raj Sinha, one of the agitators, said: “The VC, in the name of improving academic activities at the university, has over the past month, issued directives against students’ interest.” Sinha, pursuing LLB, said: “University talks about 80 per cent attendance in classes but there is a severe shortage of teachers.”
Echoing Raj’s views, Vijay Kumar, another student, said: “Rather than issuing directives in name of improving administrative atmosphere at the varsity, it would be better to set up placement cell or improving infrastructure in colleges.”
However, the university was in no mood to retract from its earlier decision. PU dean, students’ welfare, K.N. Paswan said: “The university is in no mood to backtrack on its decision and not going to bow before students’ demand.”
From 10.30am, students in two groups visited different colleges of Patna University, bringing academic and administrative work to a standstill in the institutions and the varsity main administrative block. The task of one group was closure of Magadh Mahila College, BN College and Darbhanga House, while the other’s was to close Patna College, Science College and Law College.
By 1.30pm, the two groups assembled outside the PU campus. The students entered the administrative block by breaking open the lock on the main gate and staged a demonstration. Sensing trouble, the administration alerted the local police station.
Even after the police arrived, they continued raising slogans against the PU administration and demanded a meeting with the VC, which a police officer conveyed to Simahadri. The VC refused to meet them, citing a busy schedule but said he would meet them in a couple of days. The students warned continuing their agitation if PU doesn’t accept their demands.