The Central Executive Committee of SFI condemns the barbaric assault on protesting students by the Chandigrah Police and slapping of sedition charges against 52 students, for the crime of resisting an obnoxious fee hike in Panjab University. The shameful assault happened on 11th April when the students had called for a University Strike and a protest at VC’s office.
The Panjab University, which is considered to be one of the best in the NAAC, is facing severe financial crisis due to fund cuts. University has been forced to take the route of ‘internal resource mobilization’ in the wake of severe fund crunch. The senate of the university decided to increase the fees for the academic year 2017-18. In the B Pharma course, the fee was raised from Rs 5,080 to Rs50,000 and in MA (journalism) course, the fee was hiked from Rs5,290 to Rs 30,000. For PU’s dental course, the fees were increased from Rs86, 400 to Rs1.50 lakh. What we are witnessing in Panjab University is the bankruptcy of the neoliberal model of education.
Students have been protesting this ludicrous fee hike and arm twisting by the University administration and the MHRD for a while now. The protest on the 11th was one in a series of strikes, sit-ins, marches and talks with the VC which failed. In a brazen display of state power, the Chandigarh Police which comes under the Union Government, entered the University and soon started an indiscriminate round of water cannons, tear gas and lathi charge to break the protests of the students. Many students were injured in the lathicharge as well as water cannons. The protesting students were forced to take refuge in a Gurudwara situated in the University Campus. It needs to be underlined that the Congress government of the state hasn’t even condemned this steep fee hike or the police crackdown- only to show its accomplice in the entire design.
Entire state machinery has been used to sabotage the movement, with draconian sections being used against the student leaders. We would like to remind the Chandigarh Police that democratic movement of students will only gain strength in the face of this state assault. The CEC of SFI demands that all the draconian charges must be removed immediately.
We appeal all democratic sections to unite in the face of this massive commercialization of education which will snatch away education from the children of peasants and workers of not only Punjab, but also the neighbouring states of Himachal and Haryana. Student movement will seek all support from the wider democratic movement to push away this move. History of Punjab has been a history of valiant struggles by the students and Youth; and the current generation is paying true tributes to that legacy by rewriting the history of struggles.
VP Sanu (President)
Vikram Singh (General Secretary)