Punjab University Chandigarh had been increasing fees of students by 10% every year. The economic crisis of the university has deepened, so the university has decided to put the whole burden on students, and also increased examination fee by 75% in 2016-2017 session. Students of the University campus and of various colleges under it were protesting against the fee hike. But the struggle at M.R Govt. College Fazilka played the decisive role in compelling the university to roll back the enforced fee.
M.R Govt. College Fazilka Students under the banner of Punjab Students Union decided to boycott the fee deposit. There are a few reasons for this struggle. Fazilka area facing its worst agrarian crisis, cotton crop has been failing for 10 years, health crisis has also deepened here compared to rest of Malwa region, due to border area no industry exists here, M.R Govt. college Fazilka is the only one Govt. College in a 100 kilometer radius and just 13 kilometer away from indo-Pak border, majority of students are children of peasants and agricultural labourers that’s why they decided to fight back against fee hike.
Students started off their agitation from 13th February. They burnt the effigy of the Vice Chancellor; from holding protest march at the DC Office to taking out a candle light march, students went all out. On 23 Feb PSU organized a parents and students conference and thousands of students thronged to the conference and threatened to lock the DC Office on 27th Feb if fee was not rolled back.
23rd Feb was the last date to deposit the fees.
But 2800 Students out of 3200 did not deposit their fees till the last date. Authorities were forced to extend the date of fee deposit to 28th Feb.
On 27th district administration deployed heavy police force surrounding and inside the college, But inspite of that hundreds of students starts to gather. SDM Fazilka called the leadership for the negotiations and demanded two days to settle the issue. District Administration also took up the issue with the University authorities.
Students struggle put a huge pressure on the university authority and it decided in Syndicate meeting for a 100 % roll back for those student who have an income of below 2.50 lakh per year irrespective of their caste. That decision of PU Authority benefitted more than 1.5 lakh students of PU. It is big Victory of students. Another important demand which was met is the implementation of Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme. It would happen first time after 21 years that SC students from M.R Govt. College, Fazilka will not pay any fees from next session.
This victory of students also creates an opportunity to expand the PSU in that area. This struggle was led by state president Rajinder Singh, State committee member Gagan Sangrami, Hardeep Kaur Kotla and College Unit President Satnam Ghallu.