Punjab University Agrees to Give BC-OBC Reservations in Admissions, Recruitments, Students Call Off 56-Day Agitation

The varsity has proposed new reservation policies in admissions, alongside existing recruitment reservations.
Administration Providing Assurance to the Protestors
Administration Providing Assurance to the Protestors Students for Society (SFS)

New Delhi: At Punjab University, the Students For Society (SFS) — a students collective — called off their 56-day strike after authorities agreed to accept their demands.

On May 28, the SFS called for a gathering at the Vice Chancellor's Office. The protest attracted a diverse crowd, including students, teachers, various community organizations, the Kisan Union and members of civil society.

The collective demand was focused on securing adequate reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in both recruitments and admissions.

Previously, on May 20, the varsity authorities proposed implementing a 27% reservation for OBCs in recruitment processes, with a specific provision that 12% of these reserved positions would be allocated to candidates from Punjab.

Despite this proposal, the SFS decided to continue their strike as they deemed the measures insufficient.

In response to the ongoing protests, the Registrar of Panjab University approached the demonstrators today with a new proposal.

The updated assurance included a commitment to implement a similar reservation policy in university admissions, in addition to the previously proposed recruitment reservations.

The university authorities provided a written assurance of this policy change, which addressed one of the core demands of the protesters.

In light of this development, the SFS decided to temporarily suspend their protest, acknowledging the progress made while continuing to monitor the implementation of these assurances.

"This victory belongs to students and all the oppressed and democratic sections of the society,” said SFS President Sandeep, adding that “the protest started with a demand to implement OBC reservation in recruitments, which was being denied by the authorities. But as the struggle progressed, demands evolved and now this reformed policy will be implemented in recruitment as well as in admissions too".

“Another achievement of the protest is that among 27% reservation for OBCs, 12% is being fixed for Punjab," he said.

He noted that the protest faced numerous challenges, including attempts to discredit and undermine it, but the participants remained steadfast. Issues with Punjab's reservation policy were also raised.

Despite around 32% of Punjab's population belonging to SC communities and 31.3% to OBC communities, the reservation allocations are only 25% for SCs and 12% for OBCs, which, for the students, was "unjust". Furthermore, the Punjab government does not recognize its ST population.

This led to demands for a comprehensive reform of the reservation policy. The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) recommended increasing the OBC reservation in Punjab to 25%, marking a positive step, though further reforms are still needed.

On the issue of current recruitment, verbal assurance was given to clear the backlog and reprocess two advertisements to accommodate share of BC/OBC candidates.

The student leader warned, "We are keeping watch on the issue; and if any untoward developments unfold, we will be forced to resume the agitation."

Students who were at the forefront of the demonstrations
Students who were at the forefront of the demonstrationsStudents for Society (SFS)

What was Happening at PU?

The students of the SFS rallied against the university's alleged discriminatory practices in recruitment and admissions. Their demands, outlined in a compelling memorandum, challenged the status quo and advocated for "fair" representation for marginalized communities.

Sandeep articulated the students' frustrations, particularly with regard to the ongoing faculty recruitment process, where BC/OBC reservation was "glaringly absent".

In a previous discussion with The Mooknayak, he had expressed dissatisfaction, highlighting the lack of reservation for OBC candidates in faculty recruitment, which he claimed stood at "0 percent". Similarly, there was only "2.5 percent" reservation for non-teaching positions. For undergraduate and graduate courses, it was "5 percent".

The Punjab University is an autonomous institution, which does not fully adhere to state or central university regulations. This autonomy often led to aligning its policies with whichever rules resulted in the fewest reserved seats.

Students had been holding continuous sit-ins outside the Vice Chancellor's office, with May 28 marking the 56th day of their demonstrations.

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