File photo of students of Assam Women's University protesting in Jorhat.
File photo of students of Assam Women's University protesting in Jorhat.

The Assam Women’s University Students’ Forum has given three-day deadline to the Assam government to come clean on how it plans to strengthen and protect the Assam Women’s University instead of giving vague assurances.

In a press meet held on Monday, representatives of the Forum said that in the eventuality that the government fails to meet the deadline, the students will step up their ongoing agitation with more vigour.

“We are suffering from acute mental agony and are not in a proper frame of mind to attend classes due to such statements made by our representatives which give us a sense of insecurity as to what our future holds for us,” the members said.

The students reacted strongly against the minister’s statements denigrating the only women’s university in the Northeast to a technical institute, indicating illegality of the qualification certificates signed by a mentor.

The students categorically refuted State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement in which he had said that the students were agitating due to the instigation of teachers.

“We are all of age and eligible to vote. We cannot be instigated to do anything by anyone.  Rather it is the irresponsible and appalling statements by our honourable Education Minister that have compelled us to forego classes and come out of the precincts of the hallowed institute to protest,” they said.

The Forum pointed out that the Act specifically may not have mentioned a mentor but the Chancellor who is the Chief Minister was empowered to appoint an eligible person to head the university till then a Vice Chancellor be appointed.  This had been done by the then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi by appointing Vice Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University KM Bujarbaruah as the mentor which was not against the Act as made out to be. Further though he had signed the provisional pass certificates of the two batches which had passed out, on the appointment of a permanent Vice Chancellor and the convocation being held this small detail would be taken care of.

Further, the students stated that all appointment of teachers had been done as per UGC rules.

A section of teachers clarified that there were 33 ad hoc faculty members who had been appointed through proper procedure.

“In fact, many of us, the ad hoc faculty members, got regular jobs in other institutions but decided to stay back hoping the logjam here in AWU would be sorted soon. So, the Education Minister’s statement in front of the media outside the Assembly that we would not get jobs elsewhere if the issues are fixed is flawed and smacks of an intimidating or bullying form of politics which doesn’t suit an educated politician,” one of the teachers said.

The students decried the role of Jorhat MP Kamkhya Prasad Tasa and Jorhat MLA Hitendra Nath Goswami, who is the State Assembly Speaker, in permitting such statements which spoke of the extinction of a university in their own constituency, more so as he is a member of the Executive Council of the university.

The students thanked All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and all the other students’ organizations including Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), Students’ Federation of India (SFI),  National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Dibrugarh University Postgraduate Students Union (DUPSU),  Kakajan College Students Union (KCSU), other organizations and individuals inside and outside the State for their massive support.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com

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