Agitating students of the Presidency University, Kolkata have withdrawn their 10-day-long hunger strike after authorities gave them a written assurance that they would be provided accommodation at a hostel, adjacent to the institute's campus, by the middle of the next month. The students have been demonstrating on the institute campus since August, seeking room allotments at two blocks of Eden Hindu Hostel.
The authorities had, however, said that the hostel, which was undergoing renovation work, would be opened only after it was found to be safe for use. Sayan Chakraborty, a spokesman of the agitators, said Friday that the university has given written assurance that the hostel rooms will be made available to them by November 15. The institute also agreed to bear the medical expenses of students who fell ill during the course of the protest, he said.
"Besides providing accommodation by November 15, the authorities agreed to allow space at the hostel for immediate shifting of belongings from the rented facility at New Town.
"They are also ready to bear medical expenses of those who fell ill during the sit-in demonstration, which began on August 3, and indefinite fast on October 1," Chakraborty said in the statement.
The university, however, did not concede to their demand for dissolution of a probe panel formed by the institute to find out who was responsible for the closure of the main gate on September 10, a day ahead of the convocation ceremony, he said.
One of the agitating students, Subho Biswas, said the strike was withdrawn around 7 pm on October 11. He, however, clarified that the students will continue the sit-in demonstration on the main campus of the university till November 15 over other demands.
"In the light of the written assurance by the authorities Thursday, we withdrew the fast at 7pm. But this is a partial victory for the students," he added. A university official said the students have been given details about the progress of the renovation work.
"We had urged the students to withdraw fast as it was taking a toll on their health and Puja holidays were round the corner. We also shared with them details about the renovation of the Hindu Hostel and invited the PWD officials, who are supervising the work, to talk to the students," he said.
Vice Chancellor Anuradha Lohia had called upon the students earlier this week, asking them to withdraw their fast after PWD officials informed the university that two wards of the hostel can be thrown open by November 15. Lohia also said the "ball was in the court of Public Works Department (PWD)" and every effort was being made to keep the hostel ready with all safety guidelines in place. The Hindu Hostel was shut down for repairs in July 2015 and 150 boarders were shifted to a rented accommodation at New Town.