I feel happy. I feel satisfied. I feel that warmth in the stomach which you feel when you know your efforts have been rewarded, your sacrifices have borne fruits.
The atrocious acts committed by two faculty members on students woke MNNIT from its stupor and it roared in unison for justice in a long battle that not only tested our limits but brought out the best from all of us. For the uninitiated, this was what happened:
Some students ( boys and girls ) had planned to go on a picnic to celebrate their victory in the recently concluded cultural fest. While boarding the bus during the the morning of March 21st,2010, they were "spotted" by the hostel guards and the warden was "informed'. The warden promptly arrived on the scene and confronted the group and proceeded to abuse them and reprimand them for not taking "permission" for the trip which was to a place nearby and wasnt an overnight trip or anything ( are we in KG for god's sakes?! ). Not being satisfied, he proceeds to drag the boys by force into the hostel were he then locks them up in a room and assaults them with whatever he can get his hands on including slippers. After the brutal assault, he detains the girls for a long time and calls up their parents to inform them that their daughter has become a prostitute! The boys' parents are next in line and are informed that their wards have been caught in a sex racket! ( nice imagination, I should say ).
More details can be found at http://www.nitstandsup.blogspot.com/
Hearing about this mindless attack, the college proceeded to protest in unison and an enormous crowd gathered from sunday afternoon at the deputy director's residence demanding the resignation and public apology from the guilty parties. The arrival of the police and media soon followed. Though several halfhearted attempts and veiled threats were made from the officials, the crowd refused to budge till justice was served. In the scorching sun, about thousand five hundred of us stood, the fire in our hearts burning stronger than the raging sun. Thus began an all night vigil which saw the students spend the night in the road. During this course, several officials including the Director's wife came forward with an apology "on behalf" of the thick skinned individuals who did not have the decency to face up to their actions but preferred to hide behind closed doors.
With dawn came no reuction in the resoluteness of the students and they held firm. The shifting of the protest from the residential colony to the main building was the only change as the officials remained firm and refused to meet any of the students' demands.
In the unrelenting sun, surrounded by RAF police armed with guns and tear gas canisters, the student soldiered on for justice. Food was arranged from various sources and distributed to the starving masses, who did not even break for food. Meeting after meeting was held, but with no result. The officials pleaded and threatened, all to no avail. The guilty professors remained steadfast in their decision to not apologise despite overwhelming damning evidence of their misdemeanor. The most the officials could concede was an assurance that a committee would be set up and the incident investigated. But after four years in MNNIT we all knew how long that would take. We demanded some immediate action and an apology while the committee was formed and the investigation done.
Finally, buckling under the enormous pressure, the committee was hastilty formed and the growing mass of students were invited to the main auditorium for a meeting. And finally twenty eight hours later,the first step towards justice was taken. All three of the guilty faculty members were advised to resign from their respective posts of Chief warden, Warden and President-SAC. And an assurance was given that the committee would submit its report of the investigation within a week. It was a small but significant victory in the path to justice.
Throughout the twenty eight long arduous hrs of the protest, the whole student community, from not just all over India, but all over the world stood hand in hand fighting for justice for people, most of them did not even know. Girls broke out of locked gates of their hostel to participate in the protest against the inhuman atrocity committed against their brothers and sisters. threats of dire consequences moved not a soul as all stood firm.
And most of all, most importantly, not one act of violence resulted. Not one abuse was hurled against the professors. The students shamed the faculty with their exemplary behavior and conduct throughout the protest. crowd of 1500-2000 odd enraged frustrated students and not even one small act of violence and abusing is indeed amazing. And it is for this, more than anything else, that I am proud of having been one among them. Today will go down in MNNIT history as the day when the students stood up for themselves, the day when justice was served, the day when the power of unity overwhelmed everything else. But more importantly, today will go down as the day when the students "taught" their teachers a thing or two about the power of peace.
Kudos to every one of us there, to the exceptional leadership shown by the student leaders and the admirable handling of the situation by the review committee.
At last, after four years, I finally feel proud to be an MNNIT-ian.