Sabaragamuwa u’grads worried about repercussions

by Dasun Edirisinghe

 Undergraduates of the Sabaragamuwa University yesterday claimed that the university administration planned to suspend 45 students for organising Saturday’s protest against the suspension of eight students.

Spokesman of the Sabaragamuwa University Students’ Collective Rasindu Jayasinghe claimed that there was a list of 45 students, prepared by the disciplinary committee, with the knowledge of Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake, to be suspended.

"Minister Dissanayake wants to suspend students disregarding the University Council," he said.

Undergraduates of the Sabaragamuwa University launched a hunger strike last Thursday, demanding the withdrawal of the eight-month suspension imposed on eight students by the university administration. Another section of undergraduates organised a protest blocking the Badulla–Colombo road on Saturday. They obstructed vehicular movement for six hours, finally the police had to fire tear gas to disperse them and reopen the road.

Jayasinghe said that several times during the last few months the Higher Education Ministry had threatened student leaders who organised struggles against academic and welfare problems.

"We don’t need to develop this to the closure of the university as this is the exam period," he said, adding that they would complain to the Human Rights Commission shortly.

When contacted, Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. Mahinda Rupasinghe said that the university administration was yet to take a decision on suspending the 45 students.

"We cannot suspend students suddenly," Prof. Rupesinghe said, noting that it had to be decided through a disciplinary inquiry and relevant procedures.

Registrar of the University M. M. Wimalasiri also denied any decision to suspend 45 students.

OIC of the Samanalawewa police Lawrence Fernando said that they were looking for another suspect who had helped protesting students to obstruct the Badulla-Colombo road.

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