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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Dalit, Adivasi students hit Kochi streets raising various demands

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Dalit and Adivasi students staging a protest march against their alleged continuing exclusion from higher education, in Kochi on Saturday.
| Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Dalit, Adivasi and Queer students pursuing various courses in colleges across the State staged a protest against the alleged systemic oppression and apathy and poor facilities at post-matric hostels, on Saturday.

A colourful rally attended by 200-odd students was held between Rajendra Maidan and High Court Junction as part of the protest organised by Adi Shakti Summer School, a collective of Adivasi and Dalit youths under the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS).

The students accused the government of having failed to provide adequate facilities at post-metric hotels for Dalit and tribal students in the State.

They also alleged frequent delay in disbursing e-grants, which was critical to preventing student dropouts, while the funds provided were far from adequate. Dalit students staying in private hostels are provided a grant of only ₹1,500, while Adivasi students get only ₹3,500.

The protesters also accused the Aluva Tribal Extension Officer (TEO) of obstructing the freedom of movement of post-metric hostel residents, which, they said, was a violation of University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. The situation has not improved even years after the institutional murder of Dalit scholar Rajani S. Anand, they said.

Among the demands raised by the protesters were turning educational institutions and the SC/ST Development department Dalit-Adivasi-Queer-Women friendly; raising the hostel allowance of SC/ST students to ₹7,000; transfer of Aluva TEO R. Anoop; establishing temporary hostels for boys till permanent ones are set up; government taking complete responsibility of running hostels; revision of hostel curfew from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; not entertaining the Aluva TEO’s decision to declare the District Collector and officers of the Tribal department as local guardians of students.

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