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HPNLU students stop 10-day protests after chancellor’s assurances things will get better (incl a possible SBA)

Studies return to NLU Shimla after students come to agreement with admin about improving matters
Studies return to NLU Shimla after students come to agreement with admin about improving matters

HPNLU Shimla students returned to classes today after 10 days of protests and yesterday’s appearance of the university chancellor, who took note of their concerns and assured them things would improve.

However, the chancellor and Himachal Pradesh chief justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary stopped short of making guarantees in writing to students, which had been one of the central demands of students who had been engaged with dialogue with the administration for more than a week.

“Today we have attended all the classes and protest had been called off after appearance of chancellor,” one student told us today, on condition of anonymity. “Most certainly we have to accept this outcome because we have no recourse after appearance of chancellor.

“This is the last resort we have exhausted. we have to be happy that chancellor came.”

That said, it seems that the protests and issues students were facing had managed to focus the attention of the administration, as well as that of Chaudhary, who attended campus at around 5pm yesterday with fellow high court judge Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and a member of the state bar council.

According to vice chancellor Prof Nishtha Jaswal and a student source, the following issues would be some of the issues that would be settled:

  • Students would be allowed to start a student bar association. Jaswal said that students would be making a proposal that would be considered by the executive council, which could then decide whether and how to amend the college regulations.
  • The internet connection contracted to Reliance Jio would hopefully be operational in the next week.
  • The old mess contract had been terminated and would be re-tendered to a new contractor, with student involvement in the process and formulation of the menu. Students were also invited to start a cooperative mess, where they would be responsible for management and the contracts, said Jaswal; however, the student source we spoke to said that students were realistically not currently in a position to run the mess.
  • Library timings would and curfews would be extended to 9pm with transportation back to hostels available, said Jaswal, if students took “the responsibility”. But she added that the judges did not agree that female students could have a curfew that was as late, due to certain late-night security risks with the location of and lighting around the girl’s hostels, being based in a “panther-prone” area.
  • Lighting on campus would be improved, though it was partly in the hands of the wider university which is hosted part of HPNLU at present.

Jaswal said that limited funding by the state government remained a problem, but that she and students would be looking at solutions, particularly when the next chancellor would take over in October.

“Let us follow the proper code. We need not to distrust the government in toto, we will try to interact,” she said.

One option she was also considering was to seek corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding from companies, such as ones involved in construction on campus.

Photo by Bjorn Christian Torissen.

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