Travesty to Injustice: Protest at RGNUL Patiala
This article has been written to highlight about the callous, corrupt and inefficient administration at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab in Patiala, against whom the student have been protesting against since last 24 hours.
All this incident happens back to 13th of March, 2019 at around 8:30 pm when the students mostly comprising of 2nd year at RGNUL Patiala protested against the poor quality of the food being served to them at the Boys Hostel. They protested against it by collectively banging their steel plate against dinning row table. This was followed by other students who joined them in the process by supporting them and supporting them. In around 9:00 pm, the group of teachers led by Chief Warden arrived at the scene ostensibly to sort out the issue, following which the other students dispersed leaving the second year students.
Now what can be dismissed as minor issue, the chief warden along with the professors left the venue after assuring the students about their demands. But contrary to what they assured an official order was issued by Administrative Officer suspending 6 students of 2nd year for indefinite period with only respite that was given to them is allow them to sit for their mid-term examination which was going to start from 18th of March, 2019. An indefinite suspension for trivial issue which involved no breakdown of Law and Order nor any damage to public property can be considered to be an act of high-handedness.
Due to this, the students across all the batches gathered around at 8:30 pm in front of University Guest House with the objectives for revocation of suspension order for the mentioned 6 students. It should be noted that at the same time, a lavish party was thrown by District and Session Judge for the members of District Judiciary and their family members for the personal purpose which was rather unaccounted where the primary objective for them was to stay at the luxurious guest house for over the night with their family.
Due to the presence of district judiciary members, a scene of panic and hysteria erupted amongst them following it, the Rapid Action Force was called with primary purpose to protect their family with indirect purpose for harassing and threatening the protesting students.
What started of as minor gathering protest for revocation of suspension actually turned it into the full scale Dharna with students camping in open air around Guest House at night with the following demands.
- Inadequate representation of teh students in teh decision-making process of teh university
- Discriminatory implementation of the rules regarding actual practise in the Timings of Hostels
- Lack of Transparency in Administration
- Sexist Remarks of Administrators
- Discriminatory and unreasonable timings of library
- Extra restrictions on the mobility of girls wifin the hostels
- Inter-block movement of the female students within the hostel is restricted
- Incompetent faculty.
- Misuse and flagrant violations of teh RGNUL Act and Student regulations and teh brochure
- Misuse of University resources
- Indifference to sexual harassment complaints both on-campus and in its vicinity, and finally
- Poor and ever degrading food quality in both hostels.
It should be noted that in previous years, RGNUL Administration has repeatedly ignored Sexual Harrasment compliant filed by women students against the administration at large with one of the professor filing the case with regard to sexual harassment at Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Coming to the Sexist Remarks of the Administrators, It should be noted that people protesting at RGNUL Patiala have also gathered around to protest for the removal of the Administrative Officer who has been appointed despite shady past when he in past had been employed with Punjab Prison department with history of violence.
While there are other points to be described upon, Coming back to the protest, seeing the anger of the students, the delegation of Judges from Punjab and Haryana High Court led by Justice Ravi Ranjan came in to interact with the students along with the SSP Patiala and DIG Patiala Range.
It should be noted that while most of the District judiciary members were present at the site along with High Court judges delegation. The Vice Chancellor of the University was not present which deduced the fact that Vice Chancellor took the students protest lightly. HC Judges interacted with students and assured them of action which included the postponement of midterm exams by one day and revocation of suspension of 6 students. It assured them of Chancellor who is Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court of visit to the University where it would interact with students over grievances. However they didnt assured them in writing.
The refusal of written assurance gave the student an air of suspicion. Given the history of RGNUL Administration and the timings of the events. The students refused to budge, though they later dispersed when the administration threatened them from going back from demands.
However at 4:00 pm, the 3rd seniormost judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Mahesh Grover visited the University with the primary purpose to take stock of the situation. While he spoke with students and assured them of timely action by agreeing them to the demands. But here an another clause was added that a committee would be setup to address the grievances. This led to an another air of suspicion where the students felt that the university is trying to whitewash the issue since the midterms exams are round the corner. Furthermore the demand for suspension of Administrative Officer was not met and instead Administrative Officer was asked to go on compulsory leave.
Due to this, the protest has been restarted with greater intensity by the students.