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If you are a student of Panjab University/were in the campus anytime in these last few weeks and you,
Have not had a pleasure to survive stones hitting you from random directions,
Have got your attendance marked in your classroom, instead of a police-station,
Have your limbs intact as you are reading it,
You need to know, that the force has been with you!
Panjab University turned no less than a mimic warfare, all thanks to the fee-hike issue! The blame game of the less-than-required allocation of funds sustained more than months and overshadowed what the PU authorities could otherwise focus on. Pulling apart the seams from when the university announced the fee-hike of the tune of 1100% from the next session to the non-violent protest that soon dropped the three-letter(ed) ‘non’ to be completely violent with stone-pelting and some serious drama; not much went unnoticed. And why? You may close your eyes, but how would you go deaf to the voice of rebel? Unless, if the voice itself be deafening, which it was in and between.
The voice is thankfully not deafening anymore. The case has finally received some base to pause on as the authorities announced the roll-back of fee-hike from 1100% to 10%. This happened when the student representatives and the senate members finally considered some suggestions, without digressing from the main agenda.
This case advancement is credited to the whole series of meetings, protests and strikes which the students and student leaders participated in. The Joint Student Action Committee (JSAC) formed for the purpose had transcended the boundaries of student political parties to work for the roll-back of fee-hike. What always finds mention is the highlights of Students For Society (SFS); they undoubtedly became the soft target to pass the blame on, but their fight against the fee hike continued. Similarly, some other student leaders emerged in active light and gained the trust of students.
The last straw of the sequence of fight against fee-hike was the indefinite hunger strike that the PUCSC 2016-17 President Nishant Kaushal and the Joint Secretary Amit Kaushik sat on. After such steps taken, no surprise, the satisfaction could easily be detected as Amit Kaushik spoke to PU Mirror over the case of roll-back.
As told by Amit Kaushik, the fee-hike was resented from the very first day. Peeking into the crevices, Amit told how the council was argued with by saying that the fee-hike also had concessions for the financially-weak students, to which they countered by pointing out that the concessions were not applicable to the self-finance courses. Moving down the sequence, he unfolded the incidences which gave the protest a gross turn. The role of outsiders was as much resented back then by the council as by the authorities. And days after that incident, as he spoke to us, the resentment had clearly not flamed out.
On asking why it took such a long time for the student leaders, united under a cause, to make their point, he said that though many parties had joined in against the fee-hike, not all leaders were serious about the issue. “Whenever a meeting was conducted, some party leaders would lose their cool and digress from the topic. Sometimes you have to keep your ego aside and think about what matters the most”, he said.
To take on an indefinite hunger-strike, especially in the uncertainty over when it might end, is to put much on stakes! And thankfully, it bore results in their case. When we asked how the university was now looking into fixing the ‘huge deficit’ the fee hike was for, he rested his case and said, “It all zeroes down when you start looking for options.” It will certainly be difficult to find someone to disagree with him on that.
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