The protesting students have a meal outside the Maharashtra Council of Agricultural Education and Research, in Pune on Thursday. (Express photo: Ashish Kale)
Fed up of the apathy by authorities to an indefinite strike by nearly 200 students enrolled in the MSc Agriculture course in four universities of Maharashtra, some of the protesting students got their heads tonsured in an act of protest.
For the last three days and nights, the students have been sitting outside the Maharashtra Council of Agricultural Education and Research (MCoAER) office in Bhosale Nagar.
In a government resolution issued on January 22, 2019, the state had removed their course from the list of professional courses. Besides job benefits, students claim that the demerit brings with it financial losses in the form of loss of scholarships, which are granted to students enrolled in professional courses.
“If a student comes from a reserved category and is enrolled in a professional course, almost all the fees are waived, barring registration fees and few other charges, and the final amount is only a few hundred rupees. If the same course is non-professional, then students have to pay thousands in fees. Of the 850 students every year, at least 500 are from reserved categories, so it’s a big loss to them,” said Sagar Karande, one of the students.
Another student, Somnath Savne, said that until 2018, students were getting the scholarship but the problem started after that, when the GR was issued.
Demanding that the GR in question be scrapped and the course be given professional status, the students have refused to budge from outside the MCoAER office until their demands are met. “This is the authority which conducts the exams and does the admission process, so the responsibility is on them,” said Savne.