Mumbai University, Kalina, 12 Jan. 2014. Mumbai University students today held a Silent Protest against the disputed suspension of Prof. Neeraj Hatekar of Economics Department for raising questions about the functioning of Mumbai University authorities. It is noteworthy that University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE), an independent forum of MU students had issued a call on January 8 (which also was a day of protest) to students, teachers and karamcharis of MU to join this Silent Protest. Today, around 9 AM students started gathering in the Kalina Campus for this demonstration. Soon the number of students reached around 100, despite the fact that it was Sunday and also the day of Convocation of MU. UCDE had been running pamphleteering and postering campaign for this campaign. Today, some other organizations also extended their support to the movement waged by students of MU like the SFI, AAP etc. Students have started a campaign to save MU from dictatorial high-handedness of the MU authorities and also for other demands of the students.
Prashant, spokesperson and member of Convening Committee of the UCDE said, –
“Today we have gathered here to show our unity and also our solidarity with Prof. Hatekar. However, we have been saying right since the beginning of the movement that this is not just an issue of the suspension of one teacher; we are running this movement for the democratization of the University and the just demands of the students. Discontent against the mismanagements and irregularities within the MU just exploded on the issue of suspension of Prof. Hatekar. The fact that today students not only from the Economics Department, but also from other departments came in the protest, despite its being a Sunday, also demonstrates the fact that this is not a movement of the Economics department students alone. It’s a movement of all concerned students, teachers and karamcharis of the MU.”
Narayan Kharade, member of Convening Committee of UCDE, said,-
“Today a number of students from departments as varied as Theatre and Arts department, Sociology, etc joined the protest only shows that the protest movement of students is steadily growing. Today’s protest was a success and we are going to call a general body meeting of the students of MU to decide the further strategy of the movement. We believe that all the students participating in the movement should be a part of the decision-making process and involvement of all common students will only enrich the movement in unimaginable ways. The VC must understand that such a dictatorial functioning of the MU authorities cannot go on like this forever. The students are slowly understanding the the suspension of Prof. Hatekar is an issue of concern for every common student of MU.”
Savita, a student of Economics department said that various other organizations like AAP, SFI, etc are extending their support to the movement, which is quite encouraging. However, this is a movement of common and independent students of MU and it will remain so. Param from UCDE said that everybody knows that all the VCs of the universities of India have got political patronage of this or that electoral party. If the electoral parties want to support this movement altruistically, without any narrow politcal interest, they must show that their support is genuine by taking this issue to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. If their MLAs can organize a strike to raise their pay and allowances, which are already quite high and above the common people of India, then they can easily sit on protest in the Legislative Assembly. Without such a gesture, we do not think that we have got the luxury to put our trust on the electoral parties. However, if they extend their support from outside, they are welcome.
The students are considering the option of sitting on relay hunger strike or an indefinite dharna. The future strategy of the movement will be decided by a general body meeting which has been called by the UCDE. Till now, there is no positive response from the MU authorities. However, students are optimistic that their movement will force the authorities to listen to their demands and reconsider their decision of suspending Prof. Hatekar.