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S'gamuwa undergrads launch continuous fast

S'gamuwa undergrads launch continuous fast

2013 May 31

by Aisha Nazim


Undergraduates of the Sabaragamuwa University have launched a continuous fast against issues such as student suppression, violence against students and police inaction when complaints are lodged.



Among the other problems highlighted by the student activists are the 500% increase in the registration fees for newcomers and a cut down in intakes of new students.



"Sabaragamuwa undergraduates have been facing numerous issues for a long time now," student representative and former student union leader, Damayantha Kumara, said.



Six student unions of the university were banned and disbanded on 14 March, after having suspended the union leaders a few days earlier, he said. The reason for the ban, according to him, was reportedly the university administration not wanting the unionists convening for the General Student Union Meeting, during which issues are discussed and union action is decided on.



The administration had, as preventive measures, suspended five of the union leaders and disbanded the unions, resulting in the students launching a continuous sathyagraha campaign and now, a continuous fast.

"Our demands were fair and few. We only asked for the registration of new students to be conducted properly, with aptitude tests. The registrations were irregular and uncoordinated, and the intake of new students has been reduced to 35% as a result," he said.



The registration fees, which included hostel fees, were previously a mere Rs 950 for a year, whereas it has now been raised to Rs 2,600 minus hostel fees. If one wanted hostel facilities as well, a student now has to pay Rs 3,000, Kumara added.



In addition, an unidentified group of people in vehicles without number plates had driven past students engaged in the sathyagraha on Vesak morning and opened fire at them, near the main entrance of the university, he alleged, adding no one was injured and the shots had been fired as a warning to the students to call off their agitations.

"We lodged a complaint with the police soon after the incident. However, the culprits are yet to be apprehended," Kumara said.



When contacted by Ceylon Today, the Police Media Unit said it was unaware of the incident and of the complaints. The University officials were unavailable for comment.

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