Indefinite stir at Assam women's varsity

Guwahati
25 Mar 2018

Students of Assam Women's University (AWU), the only institute of its kind in the North East, are agitating to press for permanent vice-chanellor and for transforming it into a full-fledged university.
The agitation had been launched on March 5 and protests are being held across upper Assam in support of it. The government is considering downgrading it to a technical institute by repealing the Act, which was passed by the state Assembly in 2013, and is likely to discuss the matter in the next cabinet meeting.
"The government has not taken a final decision yet. It can be either way. A discussion is going on, mostly in the political level. As a public debate is going on at present, the government will definitely consider this," Assam Higher Education principal Screteray Ajay Tewari told PTI. "Most probably, the Cabinet will take up the matter in the next meeting. If the Cabinet decides to scrap the varsity then the Assembly has to ratify it," Tewari said.
When asked to comment on the government-appointed expert committee's view that the university should be retained, he said the report was a technical one and a university requires lots of other things. "The government will take a sensible and unbiased decision ... The university has been languishing since long," Tewari said. Since classes began in 2013, the university has been functioning without a vice-chancellor or any permanent teaching staff.
Assam Agricultural University vice-chancellor K M Bujarbaruah is functioning as its mentor and all the teachers have been appointed on contract and ad-hoc basis. The AWU students are on an indefinite strike and are boycotting classes from the first week of March and even held a 36-hour hunger strike from March 19. "We want a written undertaking from the government on two issues -- appointing a permanent VC and transforming AWU into a full-fledged university. Otherwise, we will continue our strike," AWU Students' Forum president Chinmoyee Gogoi said. Last year the students had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in the matter but nothing "concrete" has happened, she added.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, during whose tenure the university was set up, visited the campus this morning and lent his support to the agitation.
"Assam Women's University was one of my dream projects for empowering the women. It is not only a pride of Assam but of the whole country. Assam BJP Govt's decision on AWU exposes the hollow promises of flagship program #BetiBachaoBetiPadhao," Gogoi tweeted after his visit.
Students bodies like AASU, SFI, SMSS, ACYCP other social organisations have thrown their weight behind the students and have organsied rallies, satyagraha and other protest programmes across upper Assam and in Guwahati in the last couple of days.
Effigies of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Education Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma were burnt and nearly 175 colleges under Dibrugarh University organised satyagraha marches during the week. The agitation has garnered support from students and teachers of JNU, TISS, BHU, NEHU, IIT-Kharagpur, Jadavpur University and Sikkim University among others. (PTI)