Pune varsity rules draw ire of students’ groups, outfits


The new set of regulations for hostel students issued recently by Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) has drawn criticism from student outfits and youth wings of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Swabhimani Paksha.

Members of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress’s student wing, Nationalist Student Congress, the NCP’s student wing, and that of the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha have said that the regulations allegedly stifle dissent against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s policies and throttle democracy.

In point number nine of the section of the SPPU regulations, which deals with code of conduct, the university has stipulated that students “shall not indulge in any anti-national, anti-social, communal or undesirable activity or political activity which is detrimental to the law and order and/or against the government” and that “students shall not carry out any propaganda or publicity of any nature whatever in respect of anything or any matter including political or communal matters.”

State Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde on Monday said any political activity on part of hostel students ought to be strictly carried out outside the university premises. “Students may agitate only on students’ questions, and not for the propaganda of any political party. If wish to take a political stance, then they must do so outside the university campus.”

Mr. Tawde said, “We led agitations in our day as well, but never confused student’s issues with political demonstrations. The former was held on the university premises and the latter was always done near Alka Talkies [in Pune city].”

Reacting to Mr. Tawde’s remarks, student leader Kuldeep Ambekar, who is also the founder of Students’ Helping Hand, said the minister and the BJP government he represents are adopting double standards on the issue. “On one hand, when SPPU hostel students protest refectory rules and the poor quality of food, cases are slapped against them. Now, with the new regulations, any protest over students’ issues will be construed as a protest against the government, or even branded as ‘anti-national activity’,” Mr. Ambekar said, stating the move is clearly an attempt to discourage any form of valid protest against the SPPU establishment.

Ruksana Patil Shaikh of the NSUI said the new regulations are an attack on students’ democracy. “The regulations equate speaking out on our grievances with ‘anti-national activity’,” she said, adding the SPPU is only interested in “producing docile machines” and not “thinking citizens”.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the SPPU’s rules for hostel students are an attempt to stifle independent thinking. “This only proves the dictatorial tendencies of the BJP government. The university has always been a wellspring of political activity. The SPPU’s rules appear to be a conspiracy to weed out any dissent on part of students who are opposed to the BJP government.”

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:46:27 PM |

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