Allahabad University Replaces Students’ Union with Council, Protests Continue
In a meeting of the Allahabad University’s Executive Council (EC), it was confirmed that the AU student union will be replaced by student council. The decision had been primarily taken by the university’s Academic Council (AC) on Monday, June 24, but the EC meeting held on Saturday, June 29, confirmed the implementation of the decision.
As soon as the students found out about the decision, they intensified their protest and assembled in the university campus in huge numbers and started chanting slogans against the university administration. The students also got into several clashes with the policemen who have been posted in large numbers across the campus.
Talking to NewsClick, the students’ union’s current general secretary Shivam Singh said, “We were protesting peacefully, but we were still detained by the police. We have been subjected to inhumane behaviour by the university administration. Today is a black day in the history of Allahabad University. We will continue our fight. We will go to the Ministry of Human Resource Development if we have to.”
The students had been protesting in the university campus since Tuesday, June 25, against the decision to replace the students’ union by the student council. Richa Singh, former president of AU students’ union had called this decision a violation of fundamental rights of the students by the university administration. She had told NewsClick, “Dissolving the students’ union is a violation of our fundamental rights. According to Article 19 (1) (c) of the Indian Constitution, all citizens have the right 'to form associations and unions'. Teachers, workers, doctors, all of them have unions. Then why are they taking this right away from us?”
The university has cited the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations to justify their decision. The Lyngdoh Committee was set up by the MHRD in 2006 as per the direction of the Supreme Court to reform students' union elections and to get rid of money and muscle power in student politics. The students have claimed that the university administration is misusing the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations for their own benefits. Singh told NewsClick, “The administration could use the recommendations to eliminate the candidates and students who indulge in illegal means during the elections. But they are using it to discontinue the elections altogether, which is not fair.”
The protesting students on Wednesday, June 26, burnt an effigy of Vice Chancellor Professor Ratan Lal Hangloo in front of his office, and chanted slogans against him and the university administration. The protesters went on an indefinite relay hunger strike starting Thursday, June 27, demanding that the university administration take back its decision to replace the students’ union with a student council. On Friday, 21 students who were taking part in the protest, including the students’ union’s current vice president Akhilesh were detained by the police.
After the decision to replace the students’ union with the student council came out, Singh told NewsClick, “When the whole system becomes autocratic, they first try to destroy the basic framework of democracy. The university administration took this decision without consulting the students. Even though we have a functional students’ union, they did not hold any meetings with it. This is a very shameful incident.”
She added, “We will go to the court against this decision. We will write a letter to the President, and tell him that the VC is demolishing the students’ union to hide his own illegal activities, so that no questions can be raised against him. It will be written in history that the Modi government in the centre destroyed the 96-year-old students’ union in the Allahabad University.”
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