Students of Cotton University began a 48-hour protest in front of the university gate here on Thursday, threatening to boycott the Lok Sabha elections if their demands are not met.
The students are seeking immediate fulfilment of their demands, including construction of a girls’ hostel, appointment of adequate number of professors and provincialisation of the departments of BCA (bachelors of computer application), mass communication and bio-technology.
Once these departments are provincialised (brought under government employment), they will receive government funding. The fees structure, which is now high, will also come down.
The students held placards reading “No girls’ hostel, no vote”, “No teacher, no vote”, “No hospital, no vote”, “No secure campus, no vote”, “With CAB (citizenship amendment bill), no vote”, “My country, my vote, my issue”.
Cotton University Students’ Union general secretary Pranjal Kalita said, “Conversion of Cotton College into a university has created severe financial crisis and staff crunch at the institution. There are only three girls’ hostels for over 2,000 girl students and almost 149 posts for teachers are lying vacant which need to be filled immediately. The state government made several promises when it turned it into a university in 2017. The then education minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, had announced Rs 100 crore for the university but no funds have been released yet.”
He said, “Altogether 5,548 students are enrolled in various courses at the institution but only 287 seats for girls and 244 seats for boys are available in seven hostels. Instead of taking initiatives to increase the seats, the authority has closed down three boys’ hostels till date. So, we have decided not to cast our votes in this Lok Sabha elections.”
The students, who had vehemently opposed the citizenship bill, said the BJP-led government in the state has failed to fulfil its promises and protect the interests of the people of Assam.
A student told this reporter that they would reconsider their poll boycott decision only if candidates include students’ issues in their election agenda.