Hundreds of Freedom Badges were released on the 18th day of the continuous Dharna of DUTA and Hindu College Teachers who are demanding Freedom of Expression and protesting against the Hindu College Governing Body’s decision to issue Show-Cause notices and punish 7 Hindu College teachers who had dared to speak up against the Trustee Punj Lloyd’s corruption. The seven teachers have been punished with increment deduction and have been debarred from Staff Council committees. The DUTA has also been demanding the immediate reinstatement of their two colleagues who had been dismissed from service by the same Governing Body.
St. Stephen’s student Devansh Mehta who has been fighting a heroic battle against his own college principal on the issue of Freedom of Expression released the Badges and address the gathering of teachers and students. He spoke about the need to keep insisting on justice and preserve the ideals of honesty and democracy in the University. He accused the DU administration of creating an environment of fear in order to silence the academic community and govern through diktats.
This environment of fear has been created systematically by VC Dinesh Singh over the last four years through repeated attempts to curb dissent at all levels of decision-making, by shunning the DUTA and DUSU, by using surveillance cameras and video-recording of protests, by barricading and even using bouncers against protesters, through salary-cuts imposed against teachers going on DUTA strike, and eventually by imposing the Code of Conduct of teachers. This style of governance has only encouraged Principals and Governing Bodies to target students and teachers.
In her address, the DUTA President Nandita Narain argued that Freedom of Expression is an essential part of the infrastructure for Education. She said that real learning and ideas can never flourish in an atmosphere of fear and blind obedience. However, increasingly, college authorities and the DU administration are clamping down on the democratic rights of teachers and students. She also reiterated the DUTA’s condemnation of the Code of Conduct that has been made actionable against teachers by the tyrannical DU VC.
Dr. Poonam Sethi, Secretary of the Hindu College Staff Association, recalled the glorious history of the college and its contribution to India’s Freedom Struggle. She lamented the fact that the same college is today governed by people who want to reduce teachers into mute service-providers and students into mechanical robots who may not speak up against any wrongdoing or injustice.
Dr. Ish Mishra, President of the Staff Association, former DUTA President Amar Deo Sharma and a host of teachers and student-representatives from KYS, SFI and AISA spoke in solidarity. In the coming days, the Freedom Badges with the message “Defend Free Speech; Stop Victimising Hindu College Teachers” will be distributed to teachers all across the University.