The BGSBU here has turned into a "den of financial irregularities and mismanagement" over the years, forcing its student community to hit the streets in protest against the "corrupt elements who are out to loot the varsity in broad daylight."
The students said government has failed to listen to the protesters despite making tall claims "being committed" to transparency and accountability in governance. And this negligence, they said, dents the University's objective to "impart quality education and undertake research in basic and job oriented fields."
According to protesting students, the University authorities "have simply looted the University's finances over the years" and the alleged involvement of a few top officials, including the Registrar Muhammad Rashid Choudhary, is "only a tip of the iceberg."
"Apart from multiple problems on academic and administrative fronts, a key problem facing this University is that the J&K government—particularly the Chancellor, the Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed—is not bothered to ascertain whether huge finances in the University are spent properly or not. Our authorities, including the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar, are taking advantage of this negligence by the government and resorting to brazen loot of the money that should ideally be spent on development of the campus and infrastructure therein," the protesting students told Greater Kashmir. They all insisted not to be identified in this news report for fear of "reprisals from the University administration."
According to the students, the "sole culprit as of now" is the "Registrar who is being protected by local politicians and the Vice Chancellor." "It has recently surfaced that top officials of the university were involved in the massive scholarship scam. In order to pave way for the Special Investigation Team of police to probe the matter fairly, it is imperative that the accused Registrar should be removed," they said.
According to students, and many faculty members as well, the Registrar is "holding on to the position illegally as he is not eligible to occupy the coveted post." "In all Universities there is a rotation for a Registrar to ensure that no person develops a vested interest. But our Registrar is there for the past eight years and holds a simple masters degree. With the result, he calls the shots in the University," the students said.
According to students, mostly outstation ones, each of them pays a minimum of Rs one lakh per year as tuition and hostel fee, "but the facilities provided in the departments and hostels are zero."
"There are more than 700 outstation students on rolls in the University. This amount, by simple calculation, amounts to seven crore rupees. This is apart from funds that the University receives from the government annually. Where does this money go? There is no development taking place," they said.
The 10-km road leading to the University from Rajouri town is in a shambles. It has developed huge potholes over the past many years. The drinking water facility in the departments and hostels, the students said, is dismal.
"The sanitation of hostels and staff quarters is pathetic. The departments are devoid of basic facilities for students, not to talk of high-end facilities like wi-fi connections and sports facilities. Everything is in a mess."
The students' claim is substantiated by many faculty members as well. "In no university you find locals getting staff quarters and outstation teachers left to fend for themselves," said a senior professor from Kashmir. "It is against rules to provide official accommodation to local staff, but rules are the last thing followed in this University."
Three days back, when the ongoing strike entered its 15th day, the University issued an order vide No BGSBU/Reg/15/5343/5379 dated 22nd August 2015, ordering transfer of Registrar Muhammad Rashid Choudhary as "officer on special duty in the Vice-Chancellor's office" and Muhammad Ishaq, i/c Controller of Examinations, was made the officiating Registrar.
But, according to the students, they saw the Registrar occupying the earlier post the next day, forcing them to restart their agitation. "We want the Registrar's removal. If he's not a blue-eyed person, why is the Mufti-led government protecting him despite talking high of morals and accountability," asked the protesting students. "Nobody is indispensable. It is not a big deal to remove the Registrar and pave way for development of the University and also put an end to corruption. Sadly, he is being shielded by local politicians as well as the government. Even the Education Minister is silent over the issue."
Apart from Registrar's removal, the students, according to a document, are demanding reconstitution of SIT for an impartial probe into the scholarship scam and that during the investigation no official should hold his chair or position. "The State Government constitute a committee to investigate bank accounts especially SOD-1, CD-2 and SB-287, right from the year 2009," a demand reads.
The students also want "end to arbitrary hike in fee", transparency in external examination system, guest lectures and workshops in each semester, and proper transportation facility.
According to protesting students, the University authorities are "playing dangerous games by pitting non-local students against locals and vice-versa."
"The university authorities are trying to give a different colour to the entire strike issue. It can have dangerous consequences for which the University authorities will be solely responsible. They are asking us to vacate hostels to avoid communal clashes when the issue is purely academic and concerns future of student community," the protesters said. "The Government should immediately step in to avoid any untoward incident in the campus. We only want our genuine grievances to be resolved."
NO OFFICIAL VERSION
Despite repeated attempts, no official was ready to speak on the issue. "We are not authorized to speak to media," said a Deputy Registrar. "You please talk to Registrar or Vice Chancellor."
The cell phones of both the top officials were, however, switched off.