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Fee protest at Dibrugarh University

Dibrugarh, Aug. 11: Academic activities were disrupted at Dibrugarh University this morning with student organisations reviving their agitation against fee hike from the current academic session at the seat of higher education in Upper Assam.

Among those who took out the protest rally on the campus were some students who have completed their final exams and are considered outsiders by the university administration and a few leaders of the dissolved Dibrugarh University Post-Graduate Students Union and All Assam Students’ Union. The protesters demanded the immediate withdrawal of the authorities’ decision to hike fees.

The DUPGSU and the AASU, supported by 13 other organisations, have been at loggerheads with the university’s administration for quite some time over the “illogical” hike in fees. They had earlier set a deadline of August 15 for the university authorities to roll back the fee hike.

The authorities maintain that a minimal hike in fees has become absolutely necessary in view of the hike in salaries of teachers, officials and employees of the university.

The rally began from the university playground and after traversing the campus, culminated at the main administrative block. The protesters carried banners, placards and festoons.

Vice-chancellor K.K. Deka said some so-called student leaders forcibly entered some of the departments and herded the students out in the scorching heat to participate in the rally. “These so-called students are trying to create an atmosphere of lawlessness on the campus. We will not tolerate this. From now we will ensure that nobody can disrupt classes in this way. I have sent strict instructions to the heads of all departments to immediately report to the authorities if anybody tries to disrupt classes in future.”

Leaders of the protest rally, however, denied the allegation. “We informed the students yesterday about the agitation programme and had sought their support,” the general secretary of the dissolved DUPGSU, Arindam Buragohain, said.

He said the students wanted to submit a memorandum to the vice-chancellor to demand immediate rollback of the fee hike but could do so as he did not come out of his office. “Since the VC preferred not to meet the students, we have decided not to submit the memorandum to any junior-level official. We will submit it to the chancellor, J.B. Patnaik. If the need arises, we will also go to the UGC,” he added.

On whether the fee hike could be rolled back, Deka said the decision was up to the executive council. He said the matter of a nominal hike in the university’s fee structure would be placed before the executive council meeting, scheduled for August 24.

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