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2 dozen HNLU students start hunger strike after 6 days protests vs VC yield no result • VC threatens shutting down college

Hunger strikes: A decade on nothing changes except, more apathy
Hunger strikes: A decade on nothing changes except, more apathy

At HNLU Raipur 23 students began an indefinite hunger strike at 8am today demanding vice chancellor (VC) Sukh Pal Singh’s resignation, after six days of peaceful protests and a no-confidence motion signed by almost the entire student body against the VC proved unsuccessful in outing him from the law school.

As an additional mark of protest the students also declined to take advantage of a state government-run scheme under which they would receive free mobile phones until Singh resigns.

HNLU’s student bar association (SBA) consulted physicians yesterday to ascertain the medical fitness of the students willing to start a hunger strike and also gained support from Indian National Youth Congress president Keshav Chandra Yadav, AIPWA member Laxmi Krishnan, Janta Congress spokesperson Nitin Bhansali and Marwahi legislative member Amit Jogi who visited campus yesterday. Jogi added that he would financially support HNLU students in a writ against the HNLU administration if they chose to file it.

Sine Die uni vacation

Singh released a notice yesterday evening imploring the students to end the protest and avoid being in contempt of the Supreme Court stay order on the high court’s decision to remove him from the post of VC. In his second “appeal” to the students since they began protests on 25 September, Singh states:

[...] none of your activities is in accordance with law. All these activities are in defiance of the order of the honourable chancellor and the honourable Supreme Court. Your protest is an act to defeat the purpose of the stay order of the honourable Supreme Court of India and may also amount to the contempt of court. All these actions of yours have led to damage the image and academic environment of the university, despite the very fact that the majority of students is in favour of restoring normalcy in the university and willing to pursue their academic pursuits. [....]

In this appeal from yesterday Singh threatened to shut down HNLU indefinitely if the students did not call off the protest and resume classes today.

Students have been pushing for Singh’s resignation because they allege that the HNLU’s administration under him has been abysmal, with problems ranging from apathy to sexual harassment complaints, corruption and lack of infrastructure. 800 students of the law school signed the no-confidence motion against him after the general body meeting in September, as we reported earlier.

Not all of them have joined the demonstration, according to sources among the protesting students, but those who have joined have styled it somewhat on NUJS Kolkata’s student protest toward the removal of its former VC Prof Ishwara Bhat, which was successful in the short term but have led to a controversial interim administration at NUJS.

It is not the first time in HNLU’s history that students have had to sit on hunger strike in order to push for better administration and facilities. The first such strike happened in 2009.

Sukh Pal Singh second appeal to students (PDF)

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