Around 100 students staged a protest at the University Grants Commission (UGC) office on Wednesday against the commission’s decision to stop funding for students who are pursuing research but have not cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET).
The UGC had recently decided to stop handing out funds to M.Phil and Ph.D students who are pursuing research in various central universities across the country, but had not qualified the NET.
Led by the All India Students’ Association (AISA), students from Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Ambedkar University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the students initially protested outside the UGC gate, but later stormed into the premises and continued to sit there till late on Wednesday evening.
The students said that they were trying to enter the UGC premises, but police used force to restrain them and injured a few protesters.
“Students stormed into the UGC after no one from the administration was willing to meet them. Police initially attacked the advancing students due to which many students, including JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, Anant Narayan, Niraj Kumar from Ambedkar University sustained injuries. Anant was immediately taken to the nearby Lok Nayak hospital and admitted,” said a statement issued by AISA.
JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, who led the delegation, said: “It is shameful how on the one hand researchers in India are, in the prime years of their lives, resisting any temptation to get easy jobs or are unperturbed by the pathetic research facility everywhere. They are working so hard to produce knowledge for our society. On the other hand, the government and UGC are hell bent at forcing them to give up their research even at the peril of future of higher education in India.”
The protest continued thereafter with a blockade and sit-in dharna inside the UGC premises. A delegation of students met the authorities later. But despite a long discussion with the administration, the students seemed dissatisfied.
Ashutosh Kumar, state secretary AISA, said: “This attitude is a result of their underestimation of our resolve. Despite the breakdown of talks, the protest and the “OCCUPY UGC” shall continue till the demands are not met fully.
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) also organised a protest march from the NSUI headquarters on to Shastri Bhawan as a mark of protest against the UGC decision. They also joined the other organisations outside the UGC office.