In June 2017, over 20 students waved black flags at UP CM Adiyanath’s motorcade during his visit to the Lucknow University campus. The same students have now claimed that they have been denied admission to the University’s postgraduate courses because of their protest. Two candidates – Pooja Shukla and Gaurav Tripathi went on an indefinite hunger strike to demand admission.
While the two were on strike, a group attacked LU’s Vice Chancellor and other staff members on Wednesday, July 4. Pooja, who was arrested by the police after the attack and then admitted to the civil hospital at Hazratganj says,“I did not even know about the attack when the police came and put us in the bus. I was with the other students who had been denied admission and was just conducting a peaceful protest. The incident took near gate number 2 while we were protesting near gate number 1. Even then, the police beat us with lathis and pushed us inside the bus. They slapped me and my clothes were almost torn off.”
NK Pandey, who is the University’s spokesperson, said, “Those people were not our students but outsiders who were disturbing the decorum of our university. They were illegally sitting on universities premises and trying to cause a stir on campus. Our university has certain guidelines and we can’t permit those who had previously caused harm to the University’s image. That’s why university took action against them.”
“Those students were protesting peacefully when some youths attacked the Vice-Chancellor, Pooja was not involved as she was sitting near the Saraswati idol when the attack took place 500 meters away. She was arrested but she was carrying a peaceful protest which is not wrong. She has the right to study and all she wanted was to get admission. I think this attack was pre-planned to get rid of protesters. Since our new Vice-Chancellor’s appointment, LU’s image is being tarnished day by day. Students are facing real issues like fee hike but no one is concentrating on the real problems,” said the General Secretary of employees at Lucknow University.
When asked about the attack, Pooja said, “I do not know who all were involved, it was an angry mob. Some of my sources say that they were students protesting against the fee hike. I had informed the Chancellor about the hunger protest before we started. All I want is to study, but they are calling us a criminal because we protested against the state authorities. Where will students go if no one hears the out? The future of our country is getting handcuffed just because we demand an admission which is our right.”
“Why would students, who were protesting peacefully for the past three days, suddenly become violent? If violence was all they wanted, they would not have gone on a hunger strike and just caused panic on the very first day. And no Samajwadi Party student was involved in the attack. This seems to be a pre-planned step just to defame students’ peaceful protest,” claimed the Samajwadi Party Student Union President.
When asked why students who were protesting peacefully were arrested and sent to jail, Vice-Chancellor SP Singh denied to give any statement and said, “Why have you come here if you have already spoken to the students involved in the protest? I won’t give any statement to you.”
Since no one on the University staff paid much attention to the students, no one is entirely sure if the attack on the VC was really linked to the students on hunger strike. NK Pandey said, “We can’t distinguish between the protesters and attackers. But as far as I know, they were the same students. One of them even lay down in front of the VC’s car. They were all linked.”
Two of the youths who carried out the violence have been identified as Ayush Kumar and Ankit Singh, both of whom were former students of LU. The SHO of Husainganj Thana said, “Both attackers have been sent to jail. They haven’t yet revealed their intention behind the violence and have just begged for mercy. The rest of the protesters have been released, only Pooja Shukla is under police observation at the hospital for security reasons. She will also be released soon.”
Professor NK Pandey added that “The University will soon be functioning again. The High Court has summoned the Proctor and Vice-Chancellor of the University and after its decision our teachers’ committee will organise a meeting. After the meeting, we will restart the admission procedure.”
Meanwhile, Pooja Shukla who was under observation at Civil Hospital broke her hunger strike on Thursday evening.
Amidst all this protest, police, violence and panic caused in the University, the ones who really suffer are the students of the University and those seeking admission.