Friday marks day 24 of the hunger strike by Joshil K Abraham, an assistant professor of GB Pant Engineering College in Delhi.
The English professor hailing from Kerala, is waging a battle for as many as 860 students of the college, to get them the campus the Delhi government promised them ten years ago.
The GB Pant Engineering college was started in 2007 and at the time, the Delhi government had promised to build the institute in 60 acres of land out of the 65 acres available with GB pant Polytechnic in South Delhi. However, the promise of constructing the college with ultra-modern infrastructural facilities never materialized. Ten years on and the institute is still functioning from an abandoned hostel building, that once belonged to GB Pant Polytechnic college.
Supporting the professorâ€™s strike, students have also launched a movement named "Campus for GBPECâ€ť.
"Our students conducted several protests, including staying back at the college after classes. We tried meeting the CM, but we were not allowed to. After days of protest, I launched an indefinite hunger strike on April 5," Joshil tells The News Minute.
Irregularities in land allotment
Prof Joshil and the students of the college allege that the claim of 65 acres of land being available is a â€śfalse factâ€ť. Based on a survey done by PWD in 2008, the actual land measures only 48.952 acres and not 65 acres, as was earlier believed, they say.
However, Joshil and his students allege that documents obtained by RTI reveal that 25 acres was illegally given to the Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-D) campus in 2008. When the IIIT-D began Phase-1 construction of the campus, the institute allegedly showed the entire 65 acres in their plans, allege Joshil. In 2015, when IIIT-D phase 2 construction was approved by the present Delhi government, the institute once again showed 65 acres in their plans, he claimed.
Armed with RTI applications, Joshil and the students hope to prove the irregularities that they believe has stalled the construction of their campus.
In May last year, Prof Joshil approached Gopal Mohan, advisor to the Delhi Chief Minister with a complaint pointing out the irregularities.
"Despite acknowledging that our allegations were true, the file has since not moved at all. There has been complete silence from the part of the government on this," Prof Joshil says.
When no other protest method bore results, Prof Joshil declared a hunger strike on April 5.
"Ten days into the hunger strike, I was forcefully taken away by the police and they got me admitted to a hospital. I got discharged two days ago and decided to go public with the information we have," he says.
Along with advocate Prashant Bhushan and a student of the college, Prof Joshil held a press meet in Delhi on Thursday.
"We approached CM Arvind Kejriwal as his government came to power with the promise of fighting corruption. But there has been no response from them at all," the professor said in the press meet.
He has also filed a writ petition with the Delhi High Court on April 21 raising the demand for the construction of the campus including all the facilities as promised by the state government.
In his struggle to get justice for his students, Prof Joshil says that he has been waging a lone battle.
"Although the other faculty members are aware of the protest and the cause, they have not yet openly pledged their support. In fact, we are all government employees and holding such a protest is against the code of conduct. For this reason, none of the other faculty members are with us in this agitation," he explained