Panjab university students clashed with the police during protests over fee hike.
Violent clashes between students and the police were witnessed in the Panjab University today as the week-long protests over the steep fee hike suddenly turned ugly. The police, which brought in water cannons, batons and tear-gas to control the crowd outside the vice-chancellor's office, were targeted with stones and flower pots. Around 6 policemen and some of the students were injured, the police said.
Later in the afternoon, the students took refuge in the Gurdwara in the university campus. Armed with batons, the police gave chase, but did not enter the sanctum sanctorum. After lengthy negotiations, the student leaders finally surrendered and were taken into preventive custody, the police added. A case of rioting and damage to public property was also filed against the protesting students.
Fees at the Panjab University has seen a sharp increase and the students want a rollback.
On Sunday, the university had approved a 12.5 per cent fee hike for all courses. The decision means that from the new academic session that begins in July, tuition fees will see hikes that range between Rs 2,000 and Rs 82,000.
Students of courses like Bachelor of Pharmaceuticals, who were paying Rs 5,000, will now have to pay Rs 50,000. Students pursuing Bachelors in Arts or Commerce will pay Rs 10,000 instead of the current Rs 2,200. Even the Masters' course in journalism has seen a six-fold fee hike, spiralling to Rs 30,000.
The university had justified the hike, saying it was anticipating a deficit of Rs 244 crore for the 2017-18 financial year. But student organisations including the Students for Society, National Students Union of India and the Punjab University Students Union have been demanding a rollback. The subsequent protests led to the disruption of classes since last week.
The protesting students of Panjab University targetted the police with stones, flower pots.
Today, the student bodies had called for a strike. The violence started when the students tried to force entry to Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover's office and were stopped by the police, who were already present in the campus.
"We resorted to force after students turned violent," senior police officer Eish Singhal was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. He added that six police officers were injured and some police vehicles were damaged.