Two SOL students were attacked, harassed, and abused during the peaceful protests held in front of the SOL building on 18th February 2022. Read to find out more.
On the second day of the reopening of Delhi University colleges, that is, 18th February 2022, SOL (School of Open Learning) students along with Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) members staged a protest outside the SOL building in the North campus.
The protestors raised their concern about the various problems that the SOL students were facing such as a lack of clarity on the status of the reopening of physical classes (academic counselling session), distribution of incomplete study material to first-year students, and a general lack of apathy of the administration towards SOL students. They also raised their concerns regarding the offline mode of examination for the fourth and sixth-semester students and urged the administration to reconsider the decision, taking into account the different backgrounds the students belong to and the difficulty they might face in coming to Delhi at such short notice.
These batches of students would be taking examinations in the physical mode for the first time without any grounding. People from across the country are enrolled in SOL and would find it impossible to come to Delhi for a physical mode examination. As such examinations should be conducted in Open Book Examination (OBE) format, and both online and physical modes should be offered,” demanded the press statement.
This is not the first time that SOL students are facing such a problem of lack of study material or ignorance of their concerns and demands by the administration. A similar situation arose during the December examinations when students demanded a postponement of exams due to a lack of printed resources and study materials.
This allegedly peaceful protest took a turn for the worse when, upon being called in, two students went into the SOL principal’s office to submit a memorandum of the protestor’s demands and were subsequently locked in, harassed, and beaten violently. Both parties ended up filing FIRs in the Maurice Nagar police station.
According to this report, two SOL students, Jatin and Bhim, were called into the SOL premises to meet the principal, Uma Shankar Pandey. They were accompanied by a police constable Vinay. Upon entering the premises, SOL guards allegedly locked the gates and started slapping and kicking the students without provocation. They were then taken into the principal’s office where 20 people gathered and started beating, harassing, and verbally abusing the students in front of the principal as well as the constable. After some time, they were allowed to leave the principal’s office but the gates were still closed. The students had to climb over the gate to escape and even called the police.
One of the students, Jatin, also sustained an injury in the form of a fracture in his arm and had to be taken to Hindu Rao hospital where medical tests were done and MLC report was obtained.
They were pulling my jacket, my hair and constantly saying abusive things right in front of the principal who was just watching. The police constable was trying to defend us but he was outnumbered. They also snatched our mobile and said they will fail us in exam,”
In his complaint to the police, SOL Officiating Principal Uma Shankar Pandey said,
Some agitators entered the SOL building and misbehaved with female security guards and manhandled staff of SOL…. they threatened the SOL staff, and provoked other agitators to enter the premises…”
He also claimed that “stern action” must be taken against them and tried to justify the SOL administration’s actions.
Following this, KYS demanded an immediate dismissal of the SOL principal as well as a public apology from the SOL as well as Delhi University in a press release dated 18.02.22.
KYS demands that DU must immediately sack the SOL Principal for his criminal conduct. DU and SOL must issue a public apology for this condemnable incident and adopt a zero-tolerance policy to ensure such an incident does not occur ever again. KYS condemns these dastardly attacks on students and pledges to intensify its movement for the educational rights of deprived and marginalised students,” stated Bhim Kumar, a member of KYS, through the medium of the press release.
A similar stand was also taken by Abha Dev Habib, secretary, Democratic Teacher’s Front (DTF), condemning this attack on the students and demanding an inquiry into the same.
The fact that students were violently attacked in the Principal’s Office with the direct involvement of SOL Officials is extremely unfortunate. DTF condemns this criminal attack on students in no uncertain terms. Peaceful protests and demands of students cannot be handled in this manner. When there is zero tolerance for physical assault on students, are the SOL students being treated in this manner as they come from marginalized backgrounds? University should set up an inquiry into the incidence and take action.”
Read also ‘DU Reopening Protests: Plan of Action Day 3’
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives