Delhi University teachers took out a march from North Campus to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on Monday to protest against the conflict brewing in 12 DU colleges fully funded by the Delhi government.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) had announced an action programme, including a university shutdown, against the delay in release of grants to these colleges on March 11. Soon afterwards, on March 12, the Delhi government released Rs 82.79 crore under salary heads and Rs 9.5 crore as the fourth quarter installment. However, teachers of those colleges who joined the march on Monday said it does not resolve their issues with the government.
“This problem of delay in salaries escalated last year. Sometime last March and from then onwards, we were told that we won’t get our salaries due to some or the other cooked-up reasons. An agitation started then and all of a sudden, they decided to release a grant. The same thing happened now. Our salary is our right, we shouldn’t be having to beg for it but this is how it’s shaping up. We don’t want to protest again after another three months begging for them to dole out our salaries. This current release of grant is a carrot dangled in front of us to derail our movement,” said Dr Neenu Kumar, who teaches English at Aditi Mahavidyalaya.
Another major refrain across protesting teachers was what they see as attempts by the government to disassociate their colleges from DU and bring them under the Delhi government.
“We resist being made a part of Ambedkar University, as the government is trying. Never before have government representatives in a college governing body brought a pre-planned document to the table and asked for immediate assent. We teachers were recruited to DU, and students joined these colleges for DU degrees,” said Dr Praveen Gautam, who teaches journalism at B R Ambedkar College.
Puneeta Sethi, who teaches home science at Bhagini Nivedita College and has taught at DU for 25 years, said that the release of grants has not been a problem before this. “This has become a big crisis. It’s no longer just a question of salary but rather the slow and steady invasion into the domain of university status. What kind of politics is this,” she said.
The protesting teachers were stopped at the barricading ahead of the CM’s residence, where they handed over a memorandum addressed to him. Executive Council members J L Gupta and Seema Das also wrote to acting Vice-Chancellor P C Joshi asking that two issues related to this conflict – the Delhi government’s appointment of their officials to these colleges, and the push by the government for a Pattern of Assistance separate from UGC financial regulations – be discussed in an Executive Council Election coming up this week.