Research scholars refuse to leave varsity library as part of stir demanding withdrawal of punching system and release of their fellowships suspended by the university

The ongoing strike by research scholars of the University of Calicut disrupted the functioning of the Central Library on the campus as the 30-odd staff stayed away from work. Vice Chancellor (VC) M. Abdul Salam had asked the employees of all department libraries to report for work at the Central Library on Thursday.

The research scholars took their agitation to the university library three days ago when the authorities refused to heed to their demands for withdrawal of punching system and release of their fellowships suspended by the university. They launched a unique protest by using the library round-the-clock. The attempts to expel them from the library with the help of the police too failed. The police said they would not intervene if there was no law-and-order problem.

With the research scholars refusing to leave the library, the staff waited outside the building after marking their attendance. University sources criticised the protesters for taking the agitation to the library which was in no way connected to the core issue.

The move to post all library staff to the Central Library, in a bid to make it work round-the-clock, became an issue with M.Phil. and postgraduate students threatening to go on a strike. The library staff were yet to accept the VC’s directive to perform duties in shifts. They said they would work if they were given adequate protection and transport facilities. The employees, teachers, and other students on the campus had tacitly expressed solidarity with the research scholars.

Several teachers took classes for them in front of the library on Wednesday and Thursday. Among them were K.E.N. Kunhahamed, Azeez Tharuvana, and E. Sreekumar. “We are not creating any problem with our strike. The university has imposed on us an ‘impractical’ method of punching,” said Fazil Bappu, secretary, All Kerala Research Scholars Association (AKRSA), which is spearheading the agitation.

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