On the 3rd of May, Ramanujan College saw protests and clashes following the administration’s move to deny students admit cards on the basis of attendance.
Following the list of detained students which was released last week, the students were categorically denied admit cards, even when they had medical certificates to prove their absence. In videos posted online, students are seen waiting outside the admin block in resistance.
On speaking with Rishansh Singh Rathour, a second-year student and a National Students’ Union India (NSUI) member from the college “The students union members didn’t come to help us, it was just my friends and I appealing to the administration to get the admit cards. They administration panicked and called the police. After a lot of taunting, the police asked the students to form a line and then enter the office to collect their admit cards. But it was a farce, the students were then sent back.”
The Principal, Dr. S.P.Aggarwal disagreed, “We have a committee to hear students’ grievances and we have exempted the genuine grievances. We aren’t against the students; we want to help them but they refuse to come to college and attend classes. They can’t say the classes were cancelled, we had classes go on during the DUTA strike too.”
Minutes later, DUSU president Shakti Singh arrived in the college with other ABVP members. Protesters led by Singh crossed over the college gate as the police force deployed in the area remained mum. After the gate was forcibly opened, the mob rushed upstairs to the principal’s office. Slogans of “bharat mata ki jai” echoed through the college corridors. Some of the detained students, along with the members of the ABVP crowded the principal’s office where Singh began his hour long ‘dialogue’ of taunts, accusations, threats and display of hyper-masculine power. Singh demanded that all students should be given their admit cards, while abusing the Principal and other faculty staff. The mob cheered in response while recording the debacle on their phones.
In videos and photos, Singh is seen seated in between Vipin Uniyal and ex-Central Councillor of the college, Sachin Baisla pressurising the Principal to change the attendance norms. At one point, the discussion turned sour with Singh leaving his chair and threatening violence. His hyper-masculine display of power found legitimacy in the room as followers left the room one by one, leaving only a few members behind. Sloganeering became the background music for the hour-long monotonous discussion which surprisingly ended with Singh touching the Principal’s feet in respect.
Rachna Gupta, a teacher from the department of commerce who was disrespected by Singh says “The DU norms state a minimum attendance requirement of 67%, we had fixed different criterias for all of the years but we had to withhold their admit cards. Their resentment led them to reach out to DUSU. These parameters need to be revised but for now, all the third years will be allowed to appear for the exam.”
Minor amendments for the first, second year and the ECA students have been made.
The first- and second-year students remained unamused by the judgement. “What’s the point of all this? I will have to repeat a paper anyway. I am disappointed.” said Shrishti, a second-year student.
On being asked if brutal force was the only way to handle this, Shakti Singh responds “The students have been protesting for days and they haven’t been allowed to enter the college. When they take away our right to protest, only then we resort to such extreme means. What you saw here was not noise, it was our naara, it was our battle cry for the truth.”
The DU Beat team was urged by Vipin Uniyal of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to write a ‘positive’ report. In the face of systemic silencing and biases, we hope this report does justice to what really happened.
Feature Image Credits: Jaishree Kumar for DU Beat.