The protest which began on Tuesday, June 14, has been continuing despite the intervention of Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy.

IIIT Basar students protesting in the rain holding umbrellasIIIT Basar students protesting in the rain holding umbrellas
news Protest Friday, June 17, 2022 - 08:33

Braving the monsoon and the scorching sun for the past three days, students of Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge and Technologies (RGUKT) campus, popularly known as IIIT Basar in Telangana’s Nirmal district have been protesting against the university’s administration. While media reports stated that the students have been agitating against the poor quality of food offered to them in the hostels, the students say that the structural issues in the university such as inadequate teaching faculty, which they claim has brought down the ranking of the institution, has been the primary reason for the protest.

The protest which began on Tuesday, June 14, has been continuing despite the intervention of Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy. One major demand of the students to call off the strike is for Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who is known to be averse to any kind of protest since his party formed the government in 2014, to visit the campus and understand their plight.

“We want the Chief Minister to come and learn about the struggles which we are facing,” said Prakash (name changed), a third-year Civil Engineering student. Prakash says that the reputed university has not witnessed any development since the formation of Telangana. “IIIT Basar is one of the premier institutions in the country and now it has turned out to be like any other college. There are very few permanent faculty. The others are hired on a contractual basis. The faculty and student ratio is also very skewed as a result of which its ranking in the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) evaluation has dropped,” he alleged.

The drop in the rankings  have resulted in poor job placement, allege students. They claim that the institution has been witnessing a gradual decline in its performance because it does not have a permanent Vice-Chancellor. Presently, Rahul Bojja, a senior bureaucrat, is the in-charge VC of the University. He also holds several other positions in the government like, Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office and Secretary of SC and ST development department and also incharge of disaster management.

“Since he directly works under the Chief Minister he is mostly in Hyderabad as a result of which the institution is overlooked. Many postings such as Director, Finance Officer and several other posts are vacant because of this. If we have any issues, there are no authorities to address them. Instead of filling these posts, the lecturers are tasked with administrative roles,” said a second-year student from Computer Science and Engineering. “How can we demand for transparency without an official who can provide details about the funds and management expenses?” he questioned.

The protests turned political after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Telangana state president RS Praveen Kumar interacted with the protesting students and extended his solidarity. This has prompted the Education Minister to insinuate that the protests were provoked by certain political parties.

Reacting to the protest on Wednesday, the Education Minister said, “The demands of the students are silly. The government is there to resolve your problems. Now withdraw the protest; and go study and look after your careers.” She warned, “I am telling the students and those behind them, let the university remain peaceful.” 

The protesting students have 12 demands, which are — The CM should visit the campus, a permanent VC who stays in the campus should be appointed, faculty-student ratio should be proportional, studies should be Information and Communication Technology based, hostels should be renovated, provide additional titles in library, amenities like beds, cots and uniforms should be provided, Campus should be well-maintained, Mess should be well-maintained, eradicate monopoly in issuing tenders to food suppliers, recruitment in sports, collaborate with other institutions.

“Two years ago we used to be provided with laptops for our education, but they are no longer providing them citing lack of resources. Earlier, our studies were based on an Information and Communication Technology based model, where after a two-hour class conducted on a digital forum, one hour would be spent on clarifying doubts. This should be resumed,” said Prakash.

As the students appeared to be in no mood to relent, the Education Minister on Thursday, through Twitter, appealed to the agitating students to withdraw the protest. “I request the students of IIIT Basara to withdraw their agitation. The Govt is sympathetic to your demands,” the Minister wrote on Twitter.

However, the agitating students say that they will not call off the protest until their primary demands are addressed.

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