Students of TISS Hyderabad have started their hunger strike on Tuesday, following the week-long campus bandh which yielded no result.
The campus of 600 students, along with peers from TISS Mumbai, Guwahati and Tujlapur, have been on a lock down since February 21, to protest against the administration’s decision to withdraw financial support to SC, ST and OBC students.
Presently, six students - Rakshita Sree, Maushi Kumari, Aloknanda Bisoyi, Sharwan Kumar and Angad Khosk are on the hunger strike.
According to the Students’ Action Committee which was formed to plan and strategize the protest, 23 more students have volunteered to join the hunger strike.
Speaking to TNM Sharwan, a student who is on the hunger strike said, “Unless the Registrar comes and addresses our problems, we are not going to call off the strike.”
“Our prime demand is that the Institute continue providing scholarships to the students of marginalized sections, which they are entitled to. Education should be accessible to everyone. If the administration withdraws financial aid, students who aspire to do higher studies can never get education,” he added.
On Sunday, a general body meeting was held at TISS Mumbai, the main campus, in which the administration proposed offering scholarships by seeking help from the alumni.
“Seeking financial help from the alumni is wrong. It is the responsibility of the present government to provide scholarships. The administration should seek support from the government rather than former students or others,” he added.
Another student, Aloknandan said that TISS Hyderabad was not informed about 2015 notice revoking the financial aid given to students from marginalized communities.
“Had the Deputy Director informed us about it, we would have protesting then itself. Now, the OBC students who got enrolled from 2016-2018 batches are being told to pay the fee,” he said
Besides the main demand to continue providing financial aid, the TISS Hyderabad students are also complaining about the poor infrastructure and the lack of basic amenities in their campus. This they feel can only be addressed if the campus is granted financial autonomy.
“The conditions of our hostels are pathetic, with no lights and furniture. The campus lacks security and there is no proper library. How are they supposed to study when there are no proper resources available?” asked Sharwan
The students had earlier released a charter of demands which included: decentralization of financial powers to campuses, accountable authority, equal representation in the placement committee, due representation from all campuses in the Students’ Union and regular students’ council meetings of Hyderabad, Tuljapur and Guwahati campuses.
The SAC has appealed to all the students to join Twitter and use the hashtag #injusTISS, to reach out to everyone and spread news about the injustice that is happening in their institute.
“The social media campaign is crucial to spread awareness about the issue. The online solidarity will add strength to our struggle,” said a member of SAC.