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Darjeeling Government College students enforced an indefinite strike

Darjeeling Government College
The students’ representatives of Darjeeling Government College enforced an indefinite strike in the institution beginning today demanding local students be given preference over outsiders in the admission process. On Friday, the Students College Representatives (SCR) that is affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Vidhyarthi Morcha had issued the closure threat. Their claim was that 80 per cent of students from outside the hills figured in the Honours course merit list that was released through the newly introduced online application process. The students’ representatives maintained the college was established in 1948 with the primary purpose of giving the hill residents an opportunity to secure higher education. “The college was formed to provide local students educational opportunities. We have always followed the norm of 80 per cent students from the hills and 20 per cent from outside in the admission process to the college. If students from the hills don’t get the first opportunity, then where will they go?” asked Awanish Rai, president of the SCR.
The students’ representatives had given the college authorities and also the North Bengal University to which the institution is affiliated, a 24-hour deadline to address the problem. “We submitted our grievances in writing to the college officer-in-charge on Friday and the same has already been forwarded to higher authorities at NBU. We have not received any response yet, which has forced us to start the agitation in the interest of the hill students,” Rai maintained.
The student leader also said the SCR would be writing to the chief minister and also the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI), to apprise them about their demand. The students’ representatives also want the online application system that has been started from this year in West Bengal to be abolished. “With the click of a button one can apply for admission from anywhere and this is the root cause of the existing problem. This way, our students will not have the advantage of preference,” Rai pointed out.
Citing examples, he said, “For the Geography Honours course, there are 61 applications, but only 13 are from the hills. In Micro-biology only three are from the hills out of 16, which is also the case for Botany and Zoology.”
Darjeeling Government College offers Honours courses in 15 subjects. Total seats available in Honours and Pass courses for this year are 624 and 1023, respectively.
Prajwal Lama, the officer-in-charge, said the college was closed today and that he had apprised higher authorities about the problems. “I have forwarded the matter to higher-ups in NBU and Kolkata. I will follow whatever directive I receive,” he said. Lama also said there were no written norms for admission of 80 per cent local students. “We don’t have such rules in the college. In the online admission system anyone from anywhere is free to apply,” he asserted, while adding that the higher authorities in Kolkata had sought a detailed report of the number of local and outside students.
Asked about the fate of the ongoing examinations in the college, the officer-in-charge said the agitators had exempted that from the strike’s purview. The practical examinations for first and second year students are in progress.
The agitating students also conducted an hour-long “chakka jam” in front of the college on Lebong Cart Road before dispersing. The college gate was closed. A police and para-military contingent reached the college to contain the agitators and ensure uninterrupted traffic flow in the area.
The education department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has already communicated with the principal secretary of the state higher education department who has reportedly assured to look into the issue.(EOIC)

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