In view of the Assam government maintaining a stony silence on the issue of Assam Women’s University, members of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Monday met Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and sought his intervention so that the University is not denigrated to a technical institute or something else.
Congress members including former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, former Minister Rakibul Hussain and MLA Rekibuddin Hussain along with women members of the party and others protested in front of Last Gate, Dispur against the government’s proposed move against AWU.
The Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS) also staged a protest in Jorhat by taking out a march from the Jorhat Stadium to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and submitted a memorandum to the State Chief Minister on Monday.
The Jorhat district president of SMSS, Bhairob Bora said that the students’ organization would back the AWU students in their agitation to the end.
In the meeting with the Governor, the 18-member Congress team which included leader of the opposition and Nazira MLA Debabrata Saikia and former three time Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that it was irrational for the government to take such a step as Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had attended the second court meeting of the University on September 6, 2016 and had sanctioned Rs 10 crore and promised another Rs150 crore.
Sonowal had also assured the court of making the University a full-fledged one and that it would receive his instituted support.
The team further apprised the Governor of AWU’s status as it was the first University in the Northeast established on the model of the 101-year-old SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and had the avowed goal to outdo the prototype.
“There are only 14 women universities in India and keeping in view the need for increasing the gross enrolment ratio of women in higher education, even the UGC has decided to establish 20 more women’s universities in the country to promote higher education for women. In such a scenario it was difficult to fathom the rationale behind the government’s decision to downgrade the AWU. There is obviously more to the matter than meets the eye,” the memorandum stated.
Seeking the government’s intervention to protect the University and its students both past and future, the memorandum further said the government seemed to have made this an ego issue and only wise counsel from the Governor could dissuade them from following this myopic path.
In the meantime, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kaliabar, Gaurav Gogoi has petitioned the Human Resource Development Minister, Prakash Javadekar, to intervene into the matter in the greater interest of women’s education.
The protest by the University students entered the eighth day on Monday beginning with the 36-hour hunger strike from March 19.
Statements made by State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma regarding downgrading the University and stating that the degrees awarded were of no value as the University lacked a permanent Vice Chancellor and the Chief Minister’s vague responses indicating his utter helplessness, the students are exploring various options including moving court if matters came to a head.