After a week-long protest at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad, the administration has imposed a sine die closure of all academic activity on campus.
The students have been agitating against the hostel fee hike which has compelled many to seek shelter outside the campus.
The college administration, according to a notice issued by the college’s acting registrar, M.P. Balamurugan on July 15, suspended the “academic activities of TISS Hyderabad SINE-DIE with immediate effect till further orders.”
The students were asked to move out of the campus and academic block by 5 pm today at the latest. Currently, protestors have shifted to the hostel and are indecisive whether to continue with the protest and hunger strike.
The administration, in the notice, stated that they have been making repeated attempts to communicate with the protestors, but despite that the students have “continued with their blockade … paralysing the functioning of the campus for the past five days.” They further added that the “protest is affecting the functioning of the KB school located adjacent to the campus.”
The students, however, are furious with the administration’s response to the overall situation.
“We have been protesting for the past seven days in the college for securing basic rights of accommodation. The administration is using its power to muzzle dissent. The administration is shielding the service provider Dr C.N. Reddy who is charging exorbitant hostel fees,” said a post-graduate student on condition of anonymity.
The notice details the chronology of events, stating that the administration has been making continuous efforts to “engage with the protesting students and the Government of India Post-Metric Scholarship (GOI-PMS) students.”
The students, on July 8, announced a strike when the interaction with the college’s acting deputy director failed to convince them of adequate action being taken. The faculty, in the meeting, explained to them (the students) that the Hyderabad campus is a non-residential one and, therefore, the administration cannot interfere with the decisions taken by the service providers (a private body that manages the hostel facility).
Over the next two days, students blocked the entry of the faculty members which, according to the administration, was “against the law.” On July 9, the meeting between the acting deputy director, the chairperson, the head of the SC/ST cell and the GOI-PMS students was “unfruitful,” according to students.
But the administration, according to the notice, held multiple meetings with protestors and even approved “financial support of Rs 15,000 for each GOI-PMS students” to pay to the service providers. The students on the other hand, the administration says, misbehaved with them; invited outsiders to give speeches and make announcements and also shouted at some faculty members when they tried breaking through the blockade.
However, students have denied all such allegations and say that it was a peaceful protest.
“The teachers were provoking students and were dividing, instigating students based on caste… by not allowing non-scholarship students to speak about the ghettoisation,” said a postgraduate student.
While students are deliberating over the future course of action, member of parliament, Elaram Kareem has written a letter to Ramesh Pokhriyal – union minister at the ministry of human resource development – seeking his attention to the ongoing protest at TISS and the demands raised by hostel students over the fee hike in accommodation facilities and mess charges.
“I would request you to kindly intervene in this matter and instruct the concerned authorities to address all the issues raised by the students of TISS and also to accept their charter of demands at the earliest,” said Kareem in the letter.
Featured image by special arrangement