After 54 days of protesting and 25 days of fasting, GB Pant Government Engineering College professor Joshil Abraham and students have won a major victory and are headed toward negotiations over land redistribution.
The protests are in conjunction with GB Pant’s requests to have land, once allocated to them by the Delhi government, redistributed to them again after it was revealed that this same land was granted to another university – Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIITD). On April 5, Abraham and a handful of students started a hunger strike in protest over the Delhi government’s handling of the situation.
On April 19, Indian National Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi met with Abraham and promised to put pressure on the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to reach a solution. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), a variant of Communist Party of India, also promised to add political pressure on the chief minister.
On April 29, Abraham ended the 25th day of his hunger strike after Kejriwal agreed to meet with him and students from the university at his residence to discuss their demands. During the discussion, the students and Abraham explained how IIITD and Directorate of Training and Technical Education (DTTE) officials had created the land scam and how the redistribution has affected the university.
“The protests – 54 days of protesting – are seen as something difficult to tackle [by the government],” said Abraham. “It would have added to the political pressure put on him [Kejriwal].”
Kejriwal reached consensus with Abraham and the students on the following issues at the meeting:
- GB Pant will receive 23 acres of land (more than the 20 acres that was originally promised for their college)
- Kejriwal will reallocate the phase II construction of IITD’s buildings to GB Pant
Kejriwal will meet with his officers immediately to figure out how the corruption allegations will be dealt with.
- If Kejriwal finds that the link between IITD and DTTE unfolded in corrupt dealings, the 25 acres allocated to IITD will be given to GB Pant.
As for what lies ahead, “The chief minister will be coming to the campus. We’ll wait two-three days [this week] to see if he’ll go through with the thing. If he doesn’t come, I’ll go back and meet with him,” said Abraham.
Abraham said that even though they have made huge strides in finally meeting with Kerjriwal, he believes the struggle will continue until the chief minister takes demonstrated action in handing over GB Pant’s land.