Close to 100 students from the Pondicherry University were forcibly removed, shoved into vans and transported to another block of the institute for protesting against a fee hike. This action by the local police came on the 20th day of the demonstration and ahead of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu's visit to the University on Wednesday.
Students of the University began protests on February 6 against the hike in fees for several courses offered by the institute. They alleged that the increase was exorbitant, with some postgraduate courses like Computer Science seeing a 100% hike in fees. Moreover, the University had also introduced a transport fee of Rs.4000 for day scholars. In response to this, students began an 'Occupy Admin' protest where they stood outside the administrative block and held a peaceful demonstration, raising slogans against the fee revision.
"On Monday night, police vans first arrived on campus and finally this morning at around 11.30 am we were forcibly evicted from the Administrative block. They pushed close to 100 of us into police vehicles and took us around the campus," says Abhijeeth, a second year student.
When the students demanded to know why their peaceful protest was being disrupted, security concerns were cited.
"We asked them why they were removing us from the Admin block and they said it was because Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was arriving and that they couldn't allow protests as it was a security threat," says Abhijeeth.
The Vice President is visiting the campus to attend the convocation scheduled on Wednesday. The students were then dropped off at the Silver Jubilee hall on campus and instructed to stay there.
When TNM had earlier spoken to the Vice Chancellor of the University, Gurmeet Singh, he had said that the protests are unjustified.
â€śThe fee was hiked two years ago after consultation with the students back then. Then after they requested, some of it was reduced also. I donâ€™t know why the students are raking this up now,â€ť he said.
He had maintained that no action would be taken against the students.
â€śI donâ€™t think we can take action against them now. Freedom must not be misused and the students must understand that. The fee here is much less than the amounts collected in other universities,â€ť he said.
However, protesting students tell TNM that administrators had been warning them of academic repercussions if they did not end the protests.
The agitation in Pondicherry University follow similar protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University over fee hikes. In all three case students contended that those studying in these universities would not be able to afford the abrupt hike in fees.