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Students threaten anti-quota stir

Staff Reporter

"Government cannot introduce the Bill when the matter is still sub judice"



UP AGAINST QUOTA: Anti-reservation protesters being dispersed by the police using water cannon at Jantar Mantar in the Capital on Tuesday. - PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

NEW DELHI: A day after the Union Cabinet gave its approval to a Bill to provide reservation for Other Backward Classes in all Central educational institutions and deemed universities, aided and maintained by the Government, students from nine prominent educational institutions here in the Capital held an anti-quota demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.

The protest turned violent when police used teargas and water cannon to stop the students from marching towards Congress president Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence. Some students sustained injuries. Twenty-five students, including three women from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), were detained and later released. Five members of United Students were also detained for leading an anti-reservation protest at Delhi University.

Medical students and doctors from colleges, including AIIMS and Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) and students from Delhi University, the Indian Institute of Technology and Indraprastha University took part in the protest under the Youth for Equality banner. They wanted to submit a memorandum to Ms. Gandhi on the reservation issue. They threatened to launch a nation-wide strike within 24 hours of the tabling of the Bill.

"We will intensify our protest and mobilise public opinion against the proposed Bill. We also want to point to the fact that the Government cannot introduce the Bill when the matter is still sub judice," said AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association president Binod Patra.

The protest caused traffic jams around Jantar Mantar.

Maintaining that the future course of action would be announced after consultations with students across the Capital, the members of Youth for Equality said they were also contacting students and doctors across the country.

"The Government has forced us to go on a protest over the same issue again after the 20-day strike in May. At that time the agitation was called off when the Government said it would seriously look into our concerns. Why then has it gone back on its word?" asked a MAMC student.

The Pan-Indian Institute of Management Alumni Association, representing the alumni of all six institutes of management worldwide, has written to the President and the Prime Minster to convey their opposition to the Government's proposed reservation policy. In a release, it said: "The current legislation is a superficial attempt to address the issue of social disadvantage, and is a socially divisive measure."

Sole rationale

The Medicos Forum for Equal Opportunities at AIIMS on Tuesday condemned attempts being made by political forces within the Government — those supporting it from outside and those sitting in the Opposition — to dilute the provision of 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs.

"A deliberate attempt is being made by vested interests to confuse the whole issue of reservation by making out a case that economic backwardness of the reserved categories or that of the general categories should be the sole basis for reservation. The sole rationale for reservation is to socially empower those sections of society that have been discriminated against on the basis of their caste," said forum convener Vikas Bajpai.

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