Angry students protest strike by Bihar’s non-teaching staff

August 5th, 2008 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Aug 5 (IANS) Angry over the indefinite strike by non-teaching staff of universities and colleges in Bihar that has paralysed teaching for over a month, thousands of students Tuesday took to the streets here in protest and pelted stones at the police. More than 20 students were arrested. About 33,000 non-teaching staff of nine universities and 250 colleges went on an indefinite strike from July 1 to demand higher salaries. The strike has crippled the teaching as well as administrative work in the universities and colleges.

Despite the new academic session beginning July 1, all the universities and colleges are closed. ”It is the first time in the last 10 years when the new session has not started in July this year,” a student, Suresh Kumar, said.

At least half a dozen students were injured in police cane charge when they were pelting stones at state Human Resource Development Minister Harinarayan Singh’s official residence. ”Some students were injured and some taken into custody,” a police official admitted.

Police alleged that the protesting students were creating trouble outside Singh’s house and had tried to break the iron gate. They also pelted stones at the police personnel deployed at the minister’s residence, police officials said.

The students say the state government has not made any attempt to end the strike. ”The government is behaving as though it has no role to play in ending the strike,” Sashi Ranjan, a student leader of NSUI (National Students Union of India - affiliated to the opposition Congress), said.

According to Ranjan, the non-teaching staff of Patna University went on strike on June 6, followed by the staff of Bihar state universities June 25. ”The strike in Patna University is around 59 days old, but the government is yet to initiate a dialogue with the striking staff,” he said.

Leaders of Bihar State University and College Employees Federation said the strike had paralysed colleges across the state. ”The state government is solely responsible for the strike,” Vinod Mishra, general secretary of the federation, said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Monday expressed unhappiness over the strike, saying it has derailed the revival process of education in the state.

The students’ bodies have threatened to intensify their protest unless academic activity is resumed.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students wing of ruling ally Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), has threatened to hold classes on the roads if the government fails to end the strike.

The All India Students Federation of India general secretary Madan Mohan Murari said that students were the worst victims of the strike.

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