Tense moments prevailed at Pondicherry University on Tuesday when a section of students, who have been holding a non-violent stir for nearly three weeks mainly demanding a revocation of the fee hike, were “forcibly” removed and “locked up” inside a block on the campus by the police.
The students, largely as part of the Pondicherry University Students’ Council (PUSU), have been on a strike in front of the administrative block since February 6 demanding the revocation of tuition fees that was hiked recently, restoration of free transport and 25 per cent reservation for local students in all the courses.
However, university authorities said in a statement on Tuesday that it held four rounds of talks with the agitating students to avoid any unforeseen developments, but failed due to the latter’s “adamant” attitude.
With the 28th annual convocation of the university scheduled to be held on Wednesday with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu being the chief guest, the university authorities said as a security protocol, the campus has been brought under tight security zone 24 hours prior to the event.
Hence, as a preventive measure, security personnel took the agitating students who were part of the protests and have been occupying the corridors of the Administrative Block, and kept them within the university campus, authorities added.
However, students involved in the stir, told DT Next they were heckled and shoved into buses from the protest venue by the police.
Claiming that more than 50 students have been detained in police vehicles, S Gayathri, an Economics student and a union committee member, said, “The police took us from the admin block after 11.30 am and forced us into the bus. They took us to another department within the university. From there, we had a meeting with the director and had another grievance committee meeting which, however, was unsatisfactory. They said they will hold a meeting on February 28. By that time, the Vice-President will leave. Till then, we have to continue our strike. So we decided to march from that place and back to the admin block. On our way, they blocked us and forced us again into the buses.”
Narrating a confrontation with a woman cop, Gayathri said, “I told her I’m protesting for your daughter as well. She might also come into the university someday, so she may not be able to pay this fee. So I was protesting for them. She, however, said ‘I don’t want my daughter to be like you’ and she hit me on my shoulder. Such very cheap incidents have been happening.”
When last spoken to, the students said they were put under preventive detention in the campus and that the police said they would be detained at least for 24 hours.