The prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) has been witnessing a bizarre hunger strike-versus-hunger strike situation on the campus. The protest, which started initially as an agitation demanding facilities such as boys’ hostel and 24-hour-open library, has now turned into a battle between two groups of students. Although the administration has accepted “all reasonable” demands of the protesting students, one set of students is yet to budge and continuing with the protest, while the other group says the hunger strike by the former is affecting their placements and bringing a bad name to the institution. The latter group also wants action against the former. However, the strike has no impact on the overall functioning of the institute – only the Hindi Journalism department has been hit.
The latest trigger for the protest was the administration’s move to convert the on-campus boys’ hostel into a girls’ hostel in the wake of rising crimes against women within and outside the campus. The administration proposed an alternative facility outside the campus. “They were even allowed to use the canteen facility. When we accepted many of their reasonable demands, they came with fresh ones. I believe they are not interested in resolving the issue,” said KG Suresh, Director-General, IIMC. Earlier, the protesting students had demanded 24-hour-open library. “We accepted their demand for extending library timing. But, it’s not possible to keep the library open for 24 hours. A committee of senior-most professors from the institute has been constituted to look into the issue and all reasonable demands will be fulfilled,” Suresh said.
A girl student who has been supporting the protest group said, “Our demand is boys too should be provided with hostel facility. So far any solution has been found.” However, a member of the counter-protest group said, “Due to the protest, our future is getting affected. We want they should withdraw their strike and the management should take strong action against them.”
Meanwhile, the strike is turning political with protesting students trying to escalate it by tagging on social media their messages to Shehla Rashid, Umar Khalid and other ultra –Left activities. A demonstration of former students was also organized to mount pressure on the management. “There is an attempt to turn IIMC into JNU. Why should they contact Leftist malcontents,” asked a member of the faculty who do not want to be quoted.