Presidency students go on hunger strike, decide to schedule referendum after voter list is revised
A hundred and eighty students of Presidency University, Kolkata sat on an indefinite hunger strike demanding their right to sit in the examination despite their low attendance.
“The implementation of this draconian rule was not disclosed to us until a month ahead of the commencement of the examination.”, said Dipyaman, a representative of the PUFD.
Negotiations with the VC did not lead to a consensus. Hence, the students decided to put their life on the line for the VC to allow them to give a special examination just for these affected students, agreeing that in future such a rule will be implemented only with consultation with the student body.
“Now fast forward to January she decides to change the interim constitution and adds a clause that goes against the law of the land citing the highly controversial Lyngdoh recommendations that cannot go against the democratic right of the students.She decided to exclude those 180 students from participating in the upcoming Presidency University Students’ Union elections citing the attendance criterion.”
A united platform was formed on the 17th of Jan 2015 that the said forum Presidencians United For Democracy (comprising of all the political platforms and organizations along with unaffiliated students) would become the forum for addressing this issue. After several negotiations with the representatives of this forum the VC refused to remove this undemocratic rule. In the meantime nomination deadlines were fast approaching and the students left with no choice decided to sit on an indefinite hunger strike from 9 o’clock, 19th Jan till the full participation(candidature and voting rights) is ensured by the VC.
“We either die trying to restore democracy in campus or we give back to Presidency what it has stood for through centuries, i.e.,a place where campus democracy is valued and freedom of expression is ensured.
Presidency taught us that if there comes a time when campus democracy is curbed by a Dolores Umbridge like authority,those who believe in democracy must not stay silent and must fight (even till death if necessary)to win back what is rightfully theirs.To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ,”Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor,it must be demanded by the oppressed.” ”
Following this, today morning the VC agreed to revise the voter list to include the 180 affected students who were initially barred from taking part in the upcoming Presidency University Students’ Union elections to be held on the 4th Feb 2015, after several rounds of negotiation with the representatives of PUFD.
“She has also acceded to our demand of postponing the deadline for submission of candidature nominations by 12 hours and the scrutiny of the same by a full working day.The new nomination deadlines are 27th Jan 11:59 pm.”, added Dipyaman.
The general body meeting of the PUFD decided that since the right to contest in the elections still eludes these 180 affected students, the decision of the political forces present in campus to participate in this undemocratic election will be decided by a mass referendum of general students which will be conducted on the 21st and 22nd of Jan by the PUFD to gather mass pulse regarding the issue.
After the declaration of the results of the referendum, PUFD plans to meet for a mass General Body meeting to decide the future course of action on the same day as the results are declared.