On July 2, 2018, the administrators at Lucknow University decided to indefinitely shut down and suspend its PG admission process in the wake of an attack on varsity proctors and teachers by ‘anti-social elements’ comprising mostly of expelled student leaders.
Following this, two students of Lucknow University (LU) went on a hunger strike. They claimed that they and 25 others were denied admission to postgraduate courses because they protested against the authorities and waved black flags at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s convoy last year.
The Lucknow University authorities outrightly denied this allegation stating that the some of the undergraduate students were denied admission because of their expulsion, while others because they had made “commitments” of not applying to any course in the University if they were allowed to sit for the finals of their ongoing courses, to avoid expulsion.
The dharna was organised by Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha leader Pooja Shukla and NSUI leader Gaurav Tripathi. In a statement given to the Indian Express, Shukla said, “Most of these 25 students have raised their voices against the university administration. I am personally being targeted for waving black flags at the convoy of the chief minister outside the campus in June last year. All of us sat for the entrance exams, but our results were stayed. I agree that some of these students were expelled, but every expulsion has a time limit. On the alleged commitments made by some of the students, there must be some written proof with their signatures on it. The university should make that public.”
Over the week, the tension kept increasing. On July 4, a CCTV footage emerged. In the video, it was seen that the students got into a scuffle and allegedly injured the teachers on campus. The University Vice-Chancellor, S.P Singh claimed that the Samajwadi Party-affiliated ‘goons’ reportedly attacked the teachers on campus. Due to this hostile environment, the VC decided to close the University sine die. The police were called, and an FIR was registered.
Apart from the scuffle with the university teachers, there was an attack on the Vice-Chancellor. On July 4, around 11.30 am as the Vice-chancellor was leaving his office to address a function, one assailant, Akash Saxena Lala, lay down in front of his car. As he got down from his vehicle, a few other students, including Vinay Yadav and one Himanshu surrounded him and began threatening him with dire consequences unless they were readmitted to the institution. They raised slogans as well.
Later on, on the same day, when the Vice-Chancellor came out of the function venue along with his staff, a group of 23 students led by Ashish Singh Boxer and Akit Singh Babu attacked them. Though the Vice-Chancellor, S.P Singh, managed to escape unhurt, a few of his staff members were hurt.
On July 7, a meeting of the Head of Departments was called. They discussed the academic and administrative matters in connection with the beginning of the academic session. In furtherance of the meeting, the timetables were displayed on the notice board. The counselling sessions for the PG admissions were also resumed on July 10, and the revised schedule for counselling has been put to display on the Lucknow University official website.
This came as a breather for the admission seekers and the already enrolled students at the University. It negated their doubts of the academic session being indefinitely delayed because of the ongoing protests and delay.
The University administration and the Uttar Pradesh police have accused the 75-year-old, former vice-chancellor, Roop Rekha Verma, for the violence that occurred. Verma is known to have close connections with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
According to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Verma even encouraged the distressed students to resort to violence. Though Verma did go and lend her support to the protesting students, before the incident, she denied her role in the initiation of the violence. She went on to say: “I was many miles away. Not present at the protest site at all when the violence took place.” Further on, in her statement, she claimed to have supported these students when she learnt that students with good academic records were being denied admission and sat with them at the dharna two days before the violence occurred.
Suo Motu literally means “Of its own accord”. Before the matter was put before the court, the Allahabad High Court went on to take suo motu cognisance of the incident and held the police responsible for not being able to prevent the attack on the teachers. It was further decided by the University administration that there was no point in continuing with the indefinite closure as it was just disrupting and increasing chaos in the academic session and was making things even more difficult for the students.
The court has taken note of the violence and assault on few of the Lucknow University teachers, including the Vice-Chancellor. On the one hand, where the High Court has summoned the Lucknow SSP, VC and Proctor to appear before the court, on the other side, the University administration has filed an FIR against 25 students.
The university is functioning normally now. The Court has asked the police to file an affidavit informing the court about its inquiry into the violence that took place on campus. The matter is listed for hearing again on July 16, 2018.