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Quota isuue: Agitating students meet Kalam

By Staff
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New Delhi, May 4: Agitating students today met President A P J Abdul Kalam and submitted a memorandum, demanding roll-back of the proposal to provide 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in Central Government educational institutions.

''We are against caste-based reservation. Higher education must be merit based. Only those students who meet the merit criteria should be in these institutions,'' said Mr Aditayaraj Kaul spokesperson for the United Students which called on Dr Kalam at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Talking to UNI, Mr Kaul said a five-member delegation of the United Students, which represents pupils from the Delhi University, the IP University and several schools, submitted the 21-point memorandum to Dr Kalam.

''Caste-based reservation is just a ploy of politicians to divide us. It is only vote bank politics at our expense,'' he said.

He said the delegation asked the President to have a ''relook'' into the 1990 Mandal report and the primary education policy.

Mr Kaul said Dr Kalam gave the delegation a patient hearing and assured them that he will look into their demands.

The student leader claimed that the United Students has the support of the Bharat Uday Mission, representing IIT and JNU students, the Youth for Equality under which all the five medical colleges of Delhi are represented and the Youth of Justice.

Students from Delhi's five medical colleges, the Delhi University and other institutions have been agitating since April 27, opposing the Government's proposal.

Representatives of the medical students also met Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh here on April 27, demanding a roll-back but he declined to discuss the issue until after elections.

On May 2, the students held peaceful demonstrations against the proposal. They raised anti-government, anti-Arjun Singh slogans and marched to Jantar Mantar after gathering at Maulana Azad Medical College near ITO here.

Students under the 'Youth for Equality' banner later said on May 12, medical students from all over India would gather in Delhi for a ''mass rally'' to highlight the issue.

They will launch a signature campaign on May 6 at India Gate.

The signed poster would be submitted to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her intervention into the matter sought.

A batch of OBC students also joined the protest while stressing the need to provide economic benefits for students and reserving seats up to the secondary/senior secondary level and not in institutions of higher education.

The students of Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, University College of Medical Sciences and Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College have boycotted lectures and stayed away from OPD services.

On April 27, the students decided to continue with the agitation as they were not ''satisfied'' with the HRD Minister's response to their demand.

They had sought ''concrete assurance'' from the Minister with regard to the proposal. They demanded that Mr Singh hold consultations with them before the matter reached the Cabinet.

A source said the HRD Minister told the representatives that any decision was not for him alone to make. It would be taken by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On April 26, hundreds of students of medical colleges clashed with the police after it prevented them from 'petitioning' Mr Singh against the reservation policy and road blockade.

The students were tear-gassed and sprayed with water cannons when they blocked traffic on Janpath, near Hotel Le Meridian crossing.

Mild lathicharge was also resorted to in order to break the 'rasta roko', which lasted for more than one-and-a-half hours.

UNI

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