For five days, Apoorva M, a second-year LLM student at the South Asian University in Delhi, has been living in a tent outside the campus. On February 25th, she was forced to leave her hostel after receiving an expulsion notice following students’ protests against authorities.
Starting from October, the students had waged a movement at SAU for stipend increase.
In a video shared by the student on 28 February, a group of women from the university can be seen attempting to remove her tent and displace her. In the video, a policeman warned Apoorva of the consequences if she didn’t vacate the premises.
Apoorva said that she has nowhere to go and is demanding to be allowed back on campus. Procheta M, another student, was also served with an expulsion notice, while two students received rustication letters.
“Apoorva’s tent was thrown from the pavement leading to the SAU gate to the adjoining forest area. Guards have shifted their desk and chairs to the area earlier occupied by Apoorva. A week ago, a cobra was spotted at the mound where the tent is now situated,” alleged Sandra, a student activist associated with SFI.
The university took action against these students because they participated in protests last year, demanding an increase in Master’s degree stipends.
The Committee Against Arbitrary Expulsion And Rustication of SAU, Delhi Students (CAAER– SAU) said it is holding a press conference on the issue on 2 March, at the Press Club of India.
“The committee was formed to address the unfair expulsion of two female scholars, one scholar from the Dalit community, one scholar in his final year of PhD, and the rustication of two students. The SAU administration has meted out harsh disciplinary actions like expulsion and rustication to the students for participating in the democratic movement for stipend and scholarship hike,”the press release from the organisation states.
“The press conference intends to bring media attention to the unprecedented situation at the South Asian University. The conference will be addressed by Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union) President and SFI-Delhi state president. Apoorva YK and Ihsan Ahmad, brother of Ammar Ahmad, will be among the other speakers,” it added.
The protests for stipend increase and other demands had began from 13 October, last year. On 4 November, SAU administration had expelled and rusticated a number of students, including Ammar Ahmad. Ammar was driven to the verge of suicide by the distress caused by his rustications. On 22 November, Ahmad suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital. He also suffered from multiple seizures during the same time. Unfortunately, Ammar was left paralyzed after this.
On February, months after the scholarship protests died out, the administration vindictively send fresh expulsion letters to two students, the students of SAU alleged.
“Apoorva Y.K. and Prochetha M. were expelled; Keshav Sawarn and Kumar Rohit, rusticated for a year. Earlier, in November, Umesh Joshi and Bhimraj M. were expelled too. The frequency of show cause notices and expulsion letters issued at the South Asian University (SAU) is alarmingly high for an institution with a population of a mere 300 students. The administration appears hellbent on quelling all forms of dissent in the campus,” read the press release.