STUDENTS of Patna Arts College have also been waging a protracted struggle against the current Principal of the college who has encouraged corrupt, casteist and anti-women practices on the campus while continuously targeting students who speak against such practices. The movement which has now been on for nearly two months started in April when a student objected to a contractor using old campus wiring for diverting electricity. The contractor had the student mercilessly beaten. When the incident was reported to the Principal, he rusticated the concerned student as well as the accompanying students and also had false cases registered against the students. The anti-student actions do not end here.
The Principal has been known to offer casteist comments on students coming from backward castes and encourage discriminatory practices towards them. A student was forced to quit the college due to this and several students in last one year have registered complaints against the principal for caste based discrimination. A dalit student was forced to attempt suicide after facing continuous discrimination in the college. Women students have also complained of continuous harassment by the principal.
The student community responded by standing in solidarity with the rusticated and harassed students. A hunger strike was begun to demand the removal of the principal and revocation of rustication. On the twelfth day of the strike, the college administration responded by having the security guards open fire at the protesting students. Eight of the striking students demanding resignation were also arrested and continue to be in jail. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who on a few occasions has criticised the Modi government for its attack on students, has however chosen to remain silent on the attack of students in campuses of Bihar. Further, the student wing of JD (U) in a striking similarity to events in BHU, has been allowed to unleash violence on students who had decided to boycott examinations as a form of protest against non-action against the principal.
Over the past few weeks, AISA has organised several protests demanding removal of the Principal and this week, AISA leaders Com. Rama Naga (current JNUSU Gen Secretary) and Com. Chintu Kumari (Former JNUSU Gen Secretary) also visited the campus to express solidarity with the protesting students. There they met Nitish who had attempted suicide to express their support and emphasised the need to strengthen the struggle of Rohith Vemula. The student vowed to never give up the struggle against caste based discrimination. They also met the arrested students in Beur Jail. The students and organizations in the movement have unitedly decided to March to Bihar Vidhan Sabha on 29th June. A student convention is also fixed for 24th June.
In case of both BHU and PU, and also JNU, Jadavpur and elsewhere, it is noteworthy that all those whose voices are raised in shrill unison against student activism and political activities on campuses remain unperturbed by the routine display of hooliganism by student wings of ruling class parties, be it of RSS-BJP or JD (U). For them, political activities in campuses must be curbed only if they are characterized by demands for quality, inclusion and democratization of campus spaces. However, as in case of FTII, IIT-Madras, UoH, JNU, JU and AU, students of BHU and Patna University have also shown that their vision of better campus spaces will not be blurred by such attacks. If anything, the attacks on them have only made their resolve and the solidarities between them, stronger.