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"We are open to discussion but not in front of the gate or in the middle of the road," Pradosh Kiran Nath

The agitation against Assam University administration’s decision to rusticate research scholar Milon Das is about to enter its fifth day. Today also marks the beginning of the third day of the hunger strike. The students and administration remain poles apart and in the meantime, three students have been stretchered to the hospital after they fell ill during the hunger strike.

Registrar in charge of Assam University Pradosh Kiran Nath said he is sad that the students are falling sick during agitation. He informed that the agitating students did not “officially” inform the authority about the hunger strike which is why the authority could not arrange the necessary medical attention. However, he added that the moment it was brought to his notice that the students are falling sick, he made all the necessary calls to arrange lady medical officers, ambulance, nurses and paramedics. “A competent team along with an ambulance will be available throughout near the gate,” said Nath.

All Assam Students’ Union President Biswarup Bhattacharjee alleged that the registrar (in-charge) does not care about the welfare of the students and that is why he has neither arranged for medical attention nor willing to discuss the matter. Pradosh Kiran Nath responded to the allegation saying, “I am always open for any sort of discussions provided both the parties are willing to follow the code of conduct. We are open to discussion but not in the front of the gate or in the middle of the road in front of the agitating students. You cannot have a dialogue in the middle of the road in front of a group of agitating students. We tried that in the past and the officers returned after being abused and insulted.”

Few members including the president of the Students’ Union had held a press conference in Silchar. There a senior journalist asked the students if they feel it is correct to call the vice-chancellor of the University a ‘Chuha’ (rat). One of the students replied, “He keeps running away from problems without facing them and that is why we feel he is a rat. He is yet to do anything to earn our respect and therefore we believe we have done no wrong by calling him a rat.”

What caused this difference between students and the vice-chancellor of the University? “First things first, the VC is not running away or escaping or enjoying a holiday. He is out for an official trip, an important assignment,” said PK Nath. He added, “It is sad that the students today are demeaning the chair of the vice-chancellor of a University. We were also students and there were times when we did not meet the VC for a year. Here the students want VC to intervene in each and every matter which is not possible as he is not authorised to do so. The VC has to follow a protocol and respect his office and officers. You cannot expect the VC to discuss an issue in the middle of the road, it won’t happen as it should not.”

Now it remains to be seen if the administration and Students’ Union manage to bridge the gap and reach a solution to restore normalcy in the University.

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