Jharkhand tribal students protest ‘saffronisation’ of higher education

Jharkhand tribal students protest ‘saffronisation’ of higher education

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Jharkhand tribal students protest ‘saffronisation’ of higher education

Ranchi: Hundreds of tribal students took out a ‘funeral procession’ of the BJP state government on Tuesday, accusing it of saffronising higher education and ‘killing’ democracy to please the party’s ideological mentor, the RSS.

The students took out the procession in the state capital after an uproar of over a month against the Raghubar Das government rechristening Ranchi’s oldest college – Ranchi College as Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University.

Mukherjee was the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangha, the forerunner to the BJP.

Amidst slogans of “RSS Ka Jor Chatron Pe Kyu (Why force RSS ideology on students?)” and “Jharkhand Ke Mahapurushon Ka Apman Bandh Karo (Stop disrespecting Jharkhand heroes)”, the students also burnt an effigy of the BJP government in Jharkhand.

“We only wanted the college to be named after a local hero. Was our demand unjustified? This government is rigid and busy propagating RSS’ ideologies. It went on to rename the college after a right wing leader despite the protests all across Jharkhand,” said Akash Kacchap, a member of Adivasi Chatra Sangh, an organization of tribal students.

Besides Adivasi Chatra Sangh, members of Ranchi University’s student council too have accused the BJP government here of suppressing students’ opinion and issuing diktats to please the RSS.

“The government has stooped down to a level where the quality of education and students’ opinion are irrelevant. They only want to prove a point to their masters sitting in Delhi that Jharkhand is gradually turning saffron,” said Tanuj Khetri, president, Ranchi University’s PG Department.

The higher and technical education department of BJP-ruled Jharkhand had recommended to the governor to rename Ranchi College as Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University, and got the Raj Bhawan’s nod recently.

Several protest marches and signature campaigns by students unions followed soon after the recommendation was made about a month ago.

Tribal student bodies also submitted memorandums against the rechristening to governor Droupadi Murmu and government officials concerned but their pleas were ignored.

Founded in 1926, Ranchi College was accorded autonomous status by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on January 9, 2009. The Jharkhand cabinet in October 2015 decided to accord university status to Ranchi College which currently imparts education to at least 4000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It is the first college in Jharkhand to get a state university status.

The students’ council of Ranchi College too has refused to accept the name proposed by the government and has threatened to boycott classes in protest.

Jharkhand higher education secretary AK Singh, however, said it was too late to make changes in the name of the university.

“The name cannot be changed. It has been passed by the cabinet and approved by the governor,” he said.