Hundreds of students gathered in protest around the V-C’s office and shouted slogans. They threw stones at the office and tried to break into the compound. Several of them managed to get inside when the police swung into action and pushed them back. In the scuffle that continued for over 15 minutes, the police charged lathis indiscriminately and some of the students, including girls, fell and injured themselves.
As the situation got out of control, the students were rounded off and made to board a police bus. The protesters blocked all exit points of the V-C office compound not to let the police bus leave. In the drama that ensued, the students used abusive language against the authorities, and efforts to have a peaceful dialogue between the authorities and protesters failed.
Towards the evening when the crowd settled, Vice-Chancellor Arun Gover came out and tried to pacify the protesters by calling their demands ‘not unreasonable’. “A letter is being sent to the Advisor to the Administrator, K K Sharma, to seek his help in obtaining LPG cylinders for hostels at subsidised rates,” he said.
He said a copy of the letter would also be sent to those Union Ministers with PU connection to request them to initiate a suitable measure at the Central government level.
The V-C said to regulate prices, food kiosks would be set up, near or inside the hostels to provide a fixed menu at Rs 24 per meal. “From October 22, when the meal prices were hiked, up to the time kiosks for fixed meal start functioning, the enhanced meal charges shall be borne by the university,” he added.
Earlier, Dean Student Welfare A S Ahluwalia urged the students to negotiate peacefully, and assured that the prices of items served in the Student Centre would be reviewed by a joint consultative committee at the earliest. Further, the prices of items served in the hostel canteens could also be reviewed by the committee comprising the representatives of students, wardens and canteen contractors.
However, the DSW added, “I have not seen a protest of this scale in the university in my career, but the majority of the large number of students here are outsiders.”
The students expressed their dissatisfaction at the promises by the authorities and resumed the dharna outside the V-C’s office. “We condemn that the police were asked to intervene in the matter by the authorities. We have now written to the authorities stating our four demands,” said Raminder Singh, the president of Students for Society.
The four demands include regulating the food prices at Student Centre for students by inspecting their identity cards. The students expressed their lack of confidence in the proposal of food kiosks.