Students at the University of South Asia (SAU) started their protest on October 13, demanding an increase in their masters and doctoral scholarship from Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000. However, the administration’s response is getting worse day by day as it implicates embassies in this matter as majority of SAU students are from SAARC countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“The college administration lodged a complaint and two Bangladeshi students were summoned by the embassy to explain the scenario. They decided not to do anything because it was the students’ democratic right to protest, but they warned them of possible expulsion,” says Keshav Swaran, a master’s student in sociology. International students fear deportation as most of their visas expire in January. “Based on the actions of the university, it seems likely that the visas will not be renewed,” Keshav informs.
Other drastic actions
Earlier this month, the administration also took another drastic step by expelling two protesting students, banning two others for a year and suspending one for a semester. The expulsion order gave the students 24 hours and said, “It has come to SAU’s record that since October 13, 2022, you have been persistently involved in acts of indiscipline inconsistent with the relevant provisions of the SAU rules/regulations/statutes. You were constantly advised to abide by the student code of conduct, but you failed to do so. You are therefore expelled from the University with immediate effect.
This incident, which took place on November 4, was followed by a massive hunger strike by students, in which 87 of them took part and 2 students are on their 11th day of hunger strike on November 17. november.
Among the expelled students is Umesh Joshi who says the university is asking for an apology. He further adds: “It is impossible for them to get an apology unless they inform us of the charges against us. All the students who took part in the demonstration were doing exactly the same thing as us. We submitted a review letter but they told us it had no merit. However, we hope to get a response from the president who has promised to meet with us.
Several students have written to the administration also expelling them and these five students, as they find no reasonable justification for this action. Keshav further states, “It was their way of intimidating us. They expelled those who were at the forefront of the protest to make an example of them. Now they also involve the embassies.
Several ministers expressed their solidarity with the students of the SAU and their perils. Many have even written letters to the Foreign Secretary to draw his attention to the ongoing protests and deportations. “Comrade V Sivadasan, MP Rajya Sabha (Member of Parliament), Comrade Mayukh Biswas, Secretary General SFI (The Student Federation of India) visited the University of South Asia and expressed their solidarity . We have also received letters of solidarity from all over from various Indian institutes,” Keshav informs.
Of the letters written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, those shared with Edex Live include those of Lok Sabha MPs Kunwar Danish Ali, Haji Fazlur Rehman, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain, Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam, Sandosh Kumar P and Dr Raja, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India.
Students also informed Edex Live that SAU shifts its campus to Chattarpur and the facilities being unprepared for it, the institute will revert to online mode. However, the students believe this will further add to the loss they have suffered through the online mode of learning over the past year and are demanding that the authorities wait until the campus is fully ready to make the switch.