The students who were booked in a vandalism case at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) blamed the university administration for falsely lodging a police complaint against them, and demanded that the case be withdrawn immediately.
The protesting students held a press conference in the city on Wednesday.
The students of the university staged protest after worms were found in the food served at the university’s refectory. The students’ union and other groups came in support of the students and joined the protests. The SPPU administration on April 1 lodged a police complaint against 12 students for vandalism during the protests at the refectory.
The students have decided to take up the issue with the governor of Maharashtra, University Grants Commission (UGC) and the National Human Rights Commission of India. They warned to hold a protest if the police case against them is not withdrawn.
Akash Bhosale, one of the 12 students who has been booked, said, “We will meet the state governor and request him to intervene in the case. Also, we will be writing to the University Grants Commission and the National Human Rights Commission of India. The refectory contractor has political support, so we students are targeted by the university administration.”
“There were at least 150 students at the spot when the protests were going on at the refectory on April 1, then why did Savitribai Phule Pune University administration lodge a complaint against only 12 of us. We are continuously taking up issues in favour of students for the last few years, so the university has falsely lodged a first information report (FIR) against us,” said Krunal Sakpal, one of the students booked in the case.
Another student Vikas Khandagale said, “During the protest, the security guards of Savitribai Phule Pune University and policemen started beating us with lathis and the glass of refectory broke in the commotion. One of the security guards even abused one of our Dalit students and told us to leave the spot.”
Dilipsingh Vishwakarma, president of Mahaparents, an organisation of citizens whose children are studying in educational institutions, said, “We support the students who are speaking up about various issues at the university. Rather than focusing on students’ issues and giving them good facilities, the university is targeting them.”
Students, SPPU admin at loggerheads over refectory issue
A cold war is brewing between a section of students and administration of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) after the former protested against poor quality food served at the refectory.
“Majority of the students at SPPU are from rural and lower-income backgrounds, so they need good food at affordable prices. Since the new contractor started providing services from February 2019, there have been many instances of worms found in served food. Hence, we staged agitation. The university administration is taking strict against the students instead of acting against the contractor,” said a PhD student Nandkumar Hange.
Somnath Lohar, another SPPU student and NCP students’ wing president, said, “Out of the 12 students who were held for protest, eight, including myself, have got anticipatory bail from the court, others will apply for bail on Monday.”
Starting from March 17, 19, 20 and 23, a series of incidents happened in which worms were found in the food served at the university refectory. On March 30, SPPU administration issued a circular with various new rules to be implemented from April 1. It was decided to close down the ‘coupon system’ at the refectory which was creating additional pressure on refectory management. While, students from various political parties, groups and unions protested at the refectory, after which SPPU lodged a police complaint against the twelve agitating students. So, SPPU formed a six-member high-level committee after the protest to evaluate the ongoing issues at SPPU refectory.
Strict rules at the refectory according to the new circular
– Coupon system is closed down and only members who avail monthly service will be provided meals.
– Sharing of one limited meal will not be allowed, as most of the times fights happen over sharing the meal.
– The television set in the refectory has been removed as students fight over seating arrangement near the television set. Instead, a soft music system or SPPU’s Vidyavani radio will be play now.
– Glass barricades will be installed at the serving counters, as it is noticed that some students directly take food items from the serving counter which is not allowed
– More CCTV cameras have been installed inside the refectory to monitor the students
Apr 11, 2019 16:41 IST
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