Today, the Punjabi department of Delhi University has presented before us an example of how the administration can turn its back on its students. Days after giving assurances to fulfil the demands raised by students who united against an apathetic administration determined to have its way, the administration under the Head of Department (HoD) of Punjabi department has once again revealed its anti-student, anti-woman character. Rajveer Kaur, a young MPhil scholar in the Punjabi department, has been facing harassment at the hands of the HoD for many months now. She was being systematically targeted for posting posters with poems by Avtar Singh Paash and the words of Bhagat Singh.
Following are the facts that would highlight the course of events leading to the exposure of the anti-student character of DU administration:
- On 23rd March 2017, Rajveer Kaur an MPhil scholar of the Punjabi Department and the President of bsCEM (Bhagat Singh CHATRA EKTA MANCH) brought a wall magazine on Bhagat Singh and Paash. The wall magazine contained poems by Paash and articles on Bhagat Singh and posted on the wall and notice board of the department. Besides these, pamphlets on Bhagat Singh and Paash were also distributed to the students.
- The Head of the Department was angered by the above acts of Rajveer. She tore the wall magazine and summoned her to her office. She was rebuked by the HoD. The HoD said that if any such wall magazine is put up again then she would be rusticated from the department.
- Despite the threats by HoD, Rajveer continued her revolutionary work due to which she was constantly abused by the HoD. The head never was able to see eye on eye with Rajveer.
- Thereafter, the result of the term paper in MPhil course work was declared and Rajveer was detained in this exam.
- A re-examination was conducted by the department arbitrarily by the HoD after two days of the declaration of result. This was done without any consultation in the MPhil committee meeting. Before the declaration of the result of re-examination, We had written an application to the Dean(Examination) branch and had an apprehension that the result would be deliberately biased against Rajveer.
- Rajveer and her classmate Manpreet, who also was detained for the same reason, sat on hunger strike demanding the constitution of an independent committee against the irregularities in declaration of result for MPhil course work. This was the primary demand along with demands for ensuring that the name boards in the department be in Punjabi, drinking water facilities be provided to students in the department, library facilities be ensured for students among other such demands of students in the department.
- In an effort to break the resolve of the students, while they were on the first day of hunger strike, the department brought the results of re-examination in which Manpreet was promoted but Rajveer was deliberately detained.
- The HoD declared the date for examination on her own; and that too within a short span of 2 days. Therefore the re-examination conducted was illegal.
- The university administration failed to co-operate with the hunger strike. Rajveer and other students in solidarity were not allowed to bring in bedsheets for night stay while the weather worsened with oncoming winter. After creating pressure on security guards through slogans and speeches the students were able to ensure that they remain at the place during the night.
- For three days members of bsCEM sat at the entrance gate of Arts Faculty but no one from the administration came to talk with them and neither the doctor was sent.
- It was only on the second half of the third day when bsCEM members went to Proctor’s office and Dean’s office, raised slogan of democracy against the apathetic administration that a doctor was sent in the night.
- The doctor said that Rajveer’s condition was pitiable and that she needs to be admitted in the hospital or else there is fear of kidney failure. Despite this Rajveer said that she would continue the strike till the demands are accepted.
- On the fourth day when the students from the campus and various student organisations extended their support the administration came to negotiate and publically accepted all the demands.
- On camera the HoD agreed that an MPhil committee will be formed that would look into the allegations of bias against the protesting students. For this an application was to be written by Rajveer and thereafter the MPhil committee meeting would be called. The application was given on the very next day.
- But even after 5 days of the public assurance no meeting had been called by the HoD.
- bsCEM members were asked to move from the proctor to the Dean and to the HoD for the committee meeting but no one is ready to abide by the statement made in public when the administration came to ensure that hunger strike is called off.
- bsCEM has been organising gherao at the department of Punjabi language and the organisation appeals to all progressive students and organisations join to ensure that no-one gets penalised for upholding their democratic rights as students in this university.
These events clearly show that the assurance was a tactic to break the students’ unity formed around the hunger strike.
This administration believes it can break the spirit of unity of students through such under-handed tactics, ensure that any and all voices of dissent are crushed and the democratic spirit of students is destroyed. It is up to us to show through our actions, through our resolve, with the unity they so fear that we will not bow down, we will not give up and we will continue to fight for our rights as students.
We remember the words of Bhagat Singh and Paash, we will not let our dreams die.
Hum ladenge saathi udaas mausam ke khilaaf
Hum ladenge saathi gulaam ichhaon ke khilaaf
Hum chunenge saathi zindagi ke tukde
Hathoda ab bhi chalta hai udaas nihaayi par
Hal ki leek ab bhi banti hai cheerti hui dharti par
Yeh kaam humara nahi banta, sawaal naachta hai
Sawaal ke kandhe par chad ke
Hum ladenge saathi…
- Avtar Singh Paash