On the fifth foundation day of Assam Women’s University (AWU) on Tuesday, the students had much to cheer about as the Vice Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University and Mentor of AWU, KM Bujarbaruah, announced that Dispur had sanctioned seven posts for the university.
The posts sanctioned for the varsity include that of the Vice chancellor, Registrar and the Comptroller.
For the first and only women’s university in the Northeast, this move by Dispur was long overdue and came about after students of the institute took to the streets in March-April this year and even resorted to a hunger strike to protest the inaction of the Government.
More than four years after its establishment in 2014 following the passing of the Assam Women’s University Act 2013 by the State Legislative Assembly, the University has been functioning with 33 ad hoc teachers and in-charge Mentor, Registrar, Comptroller et al.
The staff of third and fourth grade are still being supplied by a contractor.
Bujarbaruah told Northeast Now that though the official communication was yet to be received, this had been communicated to him on Monday.
“This is very good news. Once the officials are in place, the teachers too would be made permanent as part of the process, ” he said.
The teachers are keeping their fingers crossed.
A source said that the teachers had been told that they would be made permanent six months after joining by the former AWU Registrar in charge, Krishna Gohain, who was also at that time the Registrar of AAU but though she was now a member of the monitoring committee of higher education in Dispur, she was doing nothing in this regard.
The students had gone on strike from March 8 (International Women’s Day) and boycotted classes from March 19 after then State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made contradictory statements on the floor of the Assembly and in front of media persons that the University would be degraded into a technical institute.
Sarma again stated that it would be turned into a centre of higher education for women.
He had also questioned the legality of the appointment of a Mentor to run the University and as a consequence the validity of the qualification certificates which were signed by him, the contractual and qualitative nature of the appointment teachers, etc.
The University went on steam in Jorhat in 2014 in a converted storage granary of AAU at the Rowriah after the Assam Women’s University Act was passed by the then Congress-led Government in the State in which Sarma had been the Education Minister and Tarun Gogoi was the Chief Minister.
The AWU students’ body pointed out that the Act specifically may not have mentioned about the Mentor but the Chancellor, who was the Chief Minister himself, was empowered to appoint an eligible person to head the University till which time a VC was appointed.
This had been done by Gogoi by appointing the AAU VC, KM Bujarbaruah, as the Mentor which was not against the Act. Further the teachers had been appointed as per UGC regulations. The University itself was recognized by UGC.
Sarma’s statements and consequent agitation by the students drew national and international attention including the support of All Assam Students Union, Students Federation of India, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and its student wing Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti and students of Dibrugarh University, Gauhati University, IIT, JNU, BHU and several other individuals and institutes.
After the pressure mounted with students all over the State taking to the streets in protest, the Government retracted its stand and Hitendra Nath Goswami, the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, who is also Jorhat MLA announced in the State Assembly that a VC would be appointed and that it would not be degraded.
On April 10, the students decided to resume classes after Bihu vacation in April after the Speaker’s assurance that a VC would be appointed and the University be made into a full-fledged one at the Circuit House here.
In a Cabinet reshuffle on April 26, Himanta Biswa Sarma was relieved of the Education portfolio which was given to Sidhartha Bhattacharyya.
In Tuesday’s celebrations, the students also welcomed the freshers in a function named Aruchi.
Students of the University who had achieved success in NET, SLET and JRF were also feted in the presence of the Mentor KM Bujarbaruah, the Registrar in charge Arpan Saikia, academic Registrar LK Hazarika, and OSD GN Hazarika among others.