The administration of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and the police refused permission for a “peace march for a violence-free and democratic educational environment” that a student body planned to take out at the campus on Wednesday.
In the wake of incidents of violence which broke out at the SPPU campus last week, the administration released a circular prohibiting all membership registration drives, protests, campaigns and activities.
The Progressive Student Action Committee raised a call for a “peace march from the university main gate to the main building on November 8 to demand a violence-free and democratic educational environment.”
The student committee, comprising student leaders from various political groups, approached the police and the university administration on Tuesday but were not granted permission.
A circular released by the registrar of SPPU dated November 4 stated, “all concerned organisations, visitors and citizens are informed that membership registration, various campaigns, agitations, programs and activities will not be allowed by the university administration against the backdrop of the current law and order situation created in the premises.”
It further said that legal action would be taken if any such activity was conducted without prior permission from the police and university administration.
Some sections of students have not been happy about the move and said that it curbs democratic expression. Akshay Kamble, a representative of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), said, “We believe in Gandhi’s non-violent path. This kind of refusal for a peace march is highly regrettable. A blanket ban on political marches, campaign, membership and protests violates our fundamental human rights and democratic constitutional values.”
He added that the university is a space for education and that involves democratic engagement of students with the society in general, and not being sheltered from all sorts of political activity.
State president of Students’ Federation of India Somnath Nirmal said, “Students have been disturbed by the violence on campus over the last week. In this atmosphere of fear, we wanted to peacefully march so as to reaffirm our commitment and solidarity to democratic values.”
The university administration reportedly plans to form a committee comprising student leaders, officials from the administration, staff and the police to figure out how such incidents of violence can be prevented in uture.
“We have been told that a committee will be formed within two days. Personally, I respect this initiative on the part of the administration and hope that we can create a conducive environment in the university,” added Nirmal.