AU erupts over online tests. Richa, ABVP on same page for a change
The situation in Allahabad University took an ugly turn when police lathi-charged students who were agitating against online admission tests. Reports said five students were injured while the students were alleged to have hurled crude bombs in Monday's violence on the campus.
Trouble was brewing on the university campus over the introduction of online admission tests which the students were not ready to accept.
"The situation here is bad," said Richa Singh, president of the Allahabad University Students' Union (AUSU).
For a change, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members of the AUSU and Singh are on the same page. She, otherwise, has the support of the ruling Samajwadi Party.
Students opposed the university's decision to introduce online admission process for all courses, from undergraduate to PhD. After protests the university administration tweaked the rules to let undergraduate students take offline admission tests. For the rest, the online system remains mandatory.
Richa Singh claimed that to stall their agitation, the university issued a press release suspending her along with AUSU vice-president Vikrant Singh and general secretary Siddharth Singh. Later, however, it was withdrawn. Now a high-powered committee has been set up to look into "our conduct", Richa said.
Singh called the decision of Vice-Chancellor Prof RL Hangloo dictatorial: "If online admission procedure is being introduced on the orders of the University Grants Commission why is it that the other central universities don't have it?" she asked.
Not satisfied with the exemption given to undergraduate students, she said it still leaves out hundreds of students who are computer-illiterate. "Most such students are from rural areas of Eastern UP and are technology-challenged. Online tests won't be fair for them."
The union is demanding the offline option to be available to students.
The students' body and the university administration are refusing to budge from their respective stands. "We are starting a dharna today (Monday). Tomorrow a mahapanchayat is planned. We are going to intensify the agitation if the university administration does not relent," Singh said. The university has banned all forms of protest, she added.
The vice-chancellor dismissed the suggestion that the students' were agitated. "It is just four-five students who are trying to create trouble. You can come and see it for yourself," Hangloo said.
He did not agree with Richa's claim that the students were technology challenged. "They all have mobile phones now and many have smart phones. Surely they can take their tests online," the vice-chancellor said.
Apparently in no mood to step back, Hangloo insisted that all central universities were now having online admission tests.
The university has been in the news ever since its first woman president of the students' union prevented Bharatiya Janata Party MP Mahant Adityanath from addressing the students. In retaliation, the ABVP lobby forced senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan to cancel his visit for a seminar in the university.
Ever since then, Richa Singh had been alleging harassment at the hands university administration which first tried to find fault in her election so as to disqualify her and then alleged that she had fudged her mark-sheet at the time of admission.
To neutralise the ABVP and capitalise on Richa's popularity, the Samajwadi Party decided to back the PhD scholar. She ended up joining the Samajwadi Party recently.
The split in the students' body on political lines, which became wide open after these developments, appeared to have narrowed on the issue of online admission tests.
Edited by Aditya Menon
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