Delhi: Swaraj Abhiyan leader and former UGC member Yogendra Yadav on Tuesday decided to spend a night with the students protesting outside the Commission’s against scrapping of non-NET fellowships.
As the ‘Occupy UGC’ movement entered 15th day on Tuesday, Yadav along with Swaraj Abhiyan leaders marched from Constitution Club to the UGC office near ITO where students have been camping. Earlier in the day, a resolution was passed in the Swaraj Abhiyan Youth Summit, rejecting UGC’s decision to scrap the fellowship as “non-acceptable”. “We welcomed this protest on the very first day. I know what happens inside the commission, I have earlier also said that this committee was constituted to expand the scope of the fellowship and not to discontinue them. Today, I will sit the entire night with the protesters,” Yadav said while addressing the protesting students.
The protesters burnt effigy of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that their fellows who conducted a similar protest in Kolkata yesterday were lathicharged by police. Students from Allahabad University also joined the “Occupy UGC” protesters on Tuesday. Besides Yogendra Yadav, former AAP leaders Anand Kumar, Prashant Bhusan and Dharamveer Gandhi also came to the protest venue to express solidarity with the students.
“The government is anti-people. The only thing that they do is issue diktats what to wear, what to eat, whom to marry.
They are cutting funds in education we will fight them inside Parliament and outside too,” Gandhi said. UGC had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7, citing shortage of resources. Amidst protests by the students against the scrapping of the non-NET fellowship, the government had last week appointed a five-member panel to review the research grants offered by UGC, which, meanwhile, has been asked to continue all existing grants.
The students, however, have been continuing their protests as they rejected the government’s statement as an “eyewash” and are demanding that the review criterion be changed and the fellowship amount increased. “The committee is non-committal about extending the fellowship to all state universities or increasing the amount… The Review Committee constituted by MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) has members with questionable credentials,” Sucheta De, one of the protesters, said.
On Monday, the ‘Occupy UGC’ movement had spread to other parts of the country with students holding similar agitations in Kolkata, Pune, Allahabad and Varanasi. Today, students from Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu also held an agitation outside the regional UGC office.