With their week long protest yielding no result, the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have intensified their agitation against the college administration. On Monday, three students and anti-caste activists Radhika Vemula and Raja Vemula sat on a one-day hunger strike in the campus.
The students have been protesting since last Monday demanding that the administration withdraws its plans to make the campus non-residential. Many students are also agitated the the plan to re-introduce the Bachelors of Arts Social Sciences programme has been deferred.
Condemning the administrationâ€™s decision, Radhika Vemula said, â€śI know how difficult it was for me to get Rohith educated. My dream of seeing Rohith pursue higher education was destroyed by a criminal (Vice-Chancellor), who is still in University of Hyderabad. The same sort of people have now spread in every other institution. Now these criminals have eyed TISS.â€ť
Alleging caste discrimination by TISS administration, she said, â€śThe reason behind scrapping the course and shutting down hostels is to keep the marginalized students away from education.â€ť
Speaking to TNM, Raja Vemula said, â€śThis is a really an important issue which will affect many Dalit students.â€ť
The agitating students said that they will continue their hunger strike until the Director and Registrar of TISS come down and address their concerns. â€śSince the Hyderabad head has claimed that he will act only as per instructions from the Registrar, we want them to come here and discuss with us,â€ť said a student.
The students accuse the administration of indifference. Another student said, â€śIt is the basic responsibility of the administration to arrange for an ambulance during a hunger strike, but they didnâ€™t provide that, we arranged it. Even when we were camping in the administration building they didnâ€™t check if we had food, we pooled money for ourselves and arranged for food.â€ť
The students fear that if they donâ€™t resist the deferring of the BA programme, someday the Hyderabad campus might also be shut down, depriving scores of students an opportunity to pursue higher education.
Besides, asking the administration to roll back their decision, the students have also put forth several other demands which havenâ€™t been fulfilled for many years. However, till now the administration has rejected the protests calling it an effort by a few students to malign the institution.