#UGC Protest: What Makes Them Brave Chilly November Nights? The Students Answer
Reported By Vikas Kumar | Originally published on catchnews
The rush hour traffic was just about over when I reached Delhi’s ITO Crossing. I was there to spend the night with students opposing the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) decision to end non-NET scholarship.
I wanted to ask them what kept them away from hostels and campuses, by the roadside, for 10 days?
The students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Milia Islamia have found support from outside Delhi as well. Most of those sitting in dharna felt the government should increase scholarships to encourage research.
On the contrary, the UGC was planning to scrap it altogether. Currently, it pays Rs 5,000 to ‘Non-NET’ M Phil scholars and Rs 8,000 to ‘Non-NET’ PhD scholars.
Every day, 200-300 students have been present at Bahadur Shah Zafar Road to mark their protest. Even at night, the number has not been less than 40-50. The chilly November wind hasn’t helped . At times, the students have burnt wood to keep themselves warm.
Not far away, a police barricade was covered with placards proclaiming the students’ demands. About 20-25 police jawans stood near the barricade, relaxed but still keeping an eye on the protestors. As a student invited them to share the fire, the policemen politely refused.
The atmosphere was more and more alive as the night progressed. ‘Janwadi’ songs along with the beat of a tambourine added fervour. There were slogans against the UGC, the human resource development ministry and the government.
The songs and slogans continued until the wee hours with little sign of fatigue among students. Amid the sloganeering a group of students were discussing a news report in an English daily about how their agitation was adding to the garbage outside ITO metro station.
Many students relaxed on beddings they got from their hostels. Some sought out relatively secluded corners to study.
The dawn was about to break, but the enthusiasm was undiminished. The students were hopeful their struggle would usher in a better tomorrow.
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