M.Sc. Mathematics students in DU received their results on 8th February 2019, and have been protesting the large-scale failing since 14th February 2019.

Since 14th February 2019, the students of M.Sc. Mathematics Department of University of Delhi (DU) are protesting against the administration for allegedly failing 35 out of 45 students in the Fluid Dynamics Exam. They further claim that 150 out of 300 students failed the first semester Field Theory paper and 130 out of 300 failed the Measure and Integration paper. The students believe that the reason for this is that the faculty feels that the answers of the questions coming in the exams must be according to the notes by the teachers; the students who referred several books to answer the questions were detained. Apart from this, there are students who have been marked absent though they were present for the exams.

The demands of the students are as follows: Firstly, an independent investigation committee, not comprising of any faculty member of the department to re-evaluate the abovementioned three papers, free of cost. Secondly, each student must be shown the answer-sheet of the exams, be it an internal in-house exam or semester exams. Thirdly, the protesting students want the faculty members to lay more emphasis on research-oriented projects where they are allowed to show creativity instead of the ongoing ‘ruttafication’ culture prevailing in the University. Lastly, they are also demanding that students should be allowed to clear their backlogs through re-examinations within two months after every semester. Currently, students have to wait for a year to sit for the re-examination.

On 20th February 2019, the form of the strike was changed into a relay hunger strike. On the same day, C S Lalitha, HoD of the Mathematics department gave a written assurance to the students to fulfill their demands. She also accepted the demand for a feedback mechanism wherein the students are assigned the power to review the teachers’ performance by grading them. The students also demanded action against the anti-women nature of the department. However, these demands were not met by the administration despite passing of the deadline.

Image Credits: Students of M.Sc. Mathematics department

Image Credits: Students of M.Sc. Mathematics department

The students have also complained of backlogs in the department, from about 370 students taking admission, and only 30% of the students being able to complete the degree exam. They claim that this is because the exams are designed in a way of testing their memory rather than analytical skills. A student informs DU Beat, “Just because I used the variable ‘X’ instead of ‘Y’, my marks were deducted.”

Srijani Kar, a second-year student informs DU Beat, “There are few students in the mathematics department who complete their masters in two years because of evaluation of this kind and wait to clear backlogs and give improvement tests. Students are unable to be eligible for the NET and JRF, they can’t study further, and can’t get scholarships. The final-year students will be stranded.”

On 27th February 2019, the students have also alleged that Professor Prakash Chandra Jha, Dean of Mathematics Department said that an investigation committee checked their papers, and there hasn’t been any increase in marks except that of two to three students. He also asked the students to take INR 10,000 from him and get their papers re-evaluated. A student further adds, “He asked some of us take money from him personally and get our answer scripts re-checked. However, we denied because this fight is for each one of us. He further stated that the answer sheets are ‘confidential’ and cannot be shown to us.”

DU Beat spoke to Professor Jha. He said, “The issue doesn’t fall under my preview. I don’t look after the examination.”

On 1st March, the students staged a protest outside the department for their long standing demands. The protest was organised by Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch ,Law Students’ Initiative , Democratic Students Union DSU, and was supported by Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Union (AISA), Pinjra Tod, and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan. However, the protest turned violent hurting the students and the security guards. Gajesh Singh, the Chief Security Officer, hurt his leg and fractured his hand in the violence that broke out. According to the students, the department gate was locked by the guard, and when they asked for entry, the guard abused the students. They also allege that the security officers turned violent on the protestors.

Mr. Singh. Chief Security Officer

Mr. Singh, Chief Security Officer

Attack on one of the students. Image Credits: Srijani Kar

However, Gajesh Singh,Chief Security Officer, informs DU Beat that there were around forty to fifty students who wanted to lock CS Lalitha in the department. They had brought locks with them. Singh says, “The students did not inform the administration regarding the protest. They wanted to lock her (the HoD of the department) inside the campus. Humne bacchon ko bola baat karlo madam se, unhone mana kardiya (I asked the students to talk to ma’am, but they refused)” “When I did not allow them to go inside, they started pelting stones on me and the other guards. They brought stones with them. In midst of all this, I fractured my hand. The students also beat up the other guards.” The guards are in the process of filing a FIR against the students.

Bijinder Singh, another guard on duty substantiates the whole incident. He said, “The students’ wanted to lock the HoD inside the department. In the midst of all this, violence broke out.”

DU Beat spoke to Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi University AISA President. She said, “Delhi Police was seen assaulting the students. The administration had denied meeting the students. If the management doesn’t listen to the student grievances, what will they do? The students are fighting for their rights, and we support them.” On asking her why the protest turned violent when AISA always condemns the use of violence and hooliganism in the University, she added, “The HoD called the security and they beat up the students. We condemn the violence that broke out during the protest. However, the student political wings in the University are there to help the students fight for their rights.”

“SFI also condemns the attack on the democratic space of the University and administrative highhandedness. Again, SFI would like to extend its solidarity with the Maths Faculty of DU”, expressed the SFI press release.

Siddharth Yadav, Delhi State Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad condemned the same. He said, “We stand by the demands of the students but the way opted for raising the demands must be non- violent. For raising genuine issues, beating security guards, throwing stones, trying to kidnap the teachers must not be the way. Left organisations have started practicing the same which they do in Jawaharlal Nehru University which indeed would not only bring down the weight of the demands but spoil the campus environment as well.”

DU Beat tried contacting C.S. Lalitha, however, she was unavailable to comment.

Image Credits: Anoushka Sharma for DU Beat

Anoushka Sharma

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