Students of School of Open Learning, DU, allegedly beaten up by authorities inside principal’s office

The student delegation had gone to submit a memorandum regarding their demands related to hybrid/OBE mode examination, study materials and other issues

Students of School of Open Learning, DU, allegedly beaten up by authorities inside principal’s office

Sanjukta Basu

Students of School of Open Learning (SOL), Delhi University were allegedly beaten up by the guards in the SOL premises and roughed up by around 20 unknown persons in front of the SOL Principal Uma Shankar Pandey inside his office.

According to a police complaint filed with Maurice Nagar police station by Jatin, 2nd year student of SOL, on Friday morning around 150 students of SOL had gone to protest outside the SOL building in North Campus to raise their demands related to examinations, study materials among other issues. The students wanted to submit a memorandum to the principal. At around 12.30 pm, Jatin and Bhim both SOL students were called inside the SOL premises to meet the principal. A police constable Vinay was also accompanying them. However, on entering the premiss SOL guards allegedly locked the door and started slapping and kicking them without provocation. They were then taken to the principal’s office where around 20 other persons had gathered who further thrashed and verbally abused the students in front of the principal. After sometime they were allowed to leave the principal’s office but the SOL gates were still closed so they climbed over the gate to escape the harassment and called the Police by dialling 100. The Police took them to Hindu Rao Hospital where medical tests were done and MLC report obtained. One of the students, Jatin, has reportedly received a fracture in his arm.

Shahyar Hussain one of the students present in the protests told National Herald that while the complaint has been received by police FIR has not yet been registered. “The police said FIR will not be registered until Monday,” said Shahyar.

“They were pulling my jacket, my hair and constantly saying abusive things right in front of the principal who was just watching. The police constable was trying to defend us but he was outnumbered. They also snatched our mobile and said they will fail us in exam,” Bhim, 1st year student of SOL who was allegedly beaten told National Herald.

Students of School of Open Learning, DU, allegedly beaten up by authorities inside principal’s office

On being asked what does he think caused this sudden violence from the administration’s side, Bhim said, “We have been raising these demands in various ways including social media for quite a few days but to no avail. Finally, today we went to hold demonstration, caused a bit of road block and burnt effigies. It seems the principal felt under pressure and got upset those protests are happening under his watch.”

Following the incident, a press statement was released by Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) stating that SOL students are concerned about their studies due to several lapses by the administration. “Despite DU reopening physical classes on 17th February, the SOL has not yet started the offline classes (Academic Counselling Sessions). SOL is distributing incomplete study materials to only 1st-year students till March, while the exams are to begin in March itself. Students do not even know the basic structure of their course. A ground is being prepared for the students to fail en masse. Thousands of students are made to wait in serpentine queues from early morning to get study materials,” KYS claimed in a press statement.

KYS also raised concerns regarding the mode of examination for the 4th and 6th semesters. “SOL has decided to conduct physical mode examinations in the month of May. These batches of students would be taking examinations in the physical mode for the first time without any grounding. People from across the country are enrolled in SOL and would find it impossible to come to Delhi for a physical mode examination. As such examinations should be conducted in Open Book Examination (OBE) format, and both online and physical modes should be offered,” the press statement demands.

“Instead of considering and resolving these legitimate issues faced by lacs of students, the SOL administration has responded in the manner of hooligans by resorting to confining, beating, and threatening to fail and rusticate protesting students. The delegation was beaten up in the SOL Principal's Office at the behest of the Principal and other administrative officials,” alleged KYS in a press statement.

Students of School of Open Learning, DU, allegedly beaten up by authorities inside principal’s office
Students of School of Open Learning, DU, allegedly beaten up by authorities inside principal’s office

A public apology and resignation of SOL Principal has been demanded by the youth organization which caters to the needs of open learning students in Delhi. They further demand that SOL be reopened immediately and begin commencement of weekly offline classes, distribute printed and complete study material to all students, and conduct examinations a month after the completion of offline classes, in Open Book Examinations (OBE) format, and give the option of both online and physical mode exams to the students.

The students have received support from the Left leaning Democratic Teachers Front (DTF). “The fact that students were violently attacked in the Principal's Office with the direct involvement of SOL Officials is extremely unfortunate. DTF condemns this criminal attack on students in no uncertain terms. Peaceful protests and demands of students cannot be handled in this manner. Are the SOL students being treated in this manner as they come from marginalized backgrounds? University should set up an inquiry into the incident and take action,” said Abha Dev Habib, Secretary, DTF in a press statement.

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Published: 19 Feb 2022, 12:49 PM