Sikkim Geyzing College students
Some 18 students were detained on February 5 for protests against the delay in construction of the college | PC: Pankaj Dhungel

The four expelled students of Sikkim Government College at Gyalshing, West Sikkim, have opted for legal recourse after what they claim to be unfair punishment meted out to them for demanding better infrastructure.

The students – Pravin Upreti, Praveen Basnett, Nakul Sharma and Loknath Chettri served a legal notice to the Chief Secretary of Sikkim, Additional Chief Secretary cum Principal Secretary, and Principal of Geyzing College through senior advocate Udai P Sharma on Tuesday.

According to the copy of the legal notice with EastMojo, they have asked the college Principal to withdraw, rescind or cancel their expulsion order dated February 19, 2021, within seven days, or else, they will file a writ petition in Sikkim High Court for quashing the same. Also, the state will be held liable for all the cost that may arise.

Also Watch: Documentary: In Sikkim, students cannot protest for their rights

What happened?

Four students from Sikkim Government College, Geyzing (SGC Geyzing) were expelled on February 19, allegedly because they protested about the lack of infrastructure at the college in front of the Education Department in Gangtok.

The four students are Pravin Upreti from Sociology (3rd semester), Praveen Basnett from Political Science (3rd semester), Nakul Sharma from physical education (5th semester) and Loknath Chettri from English Department (3rd semester).

On the night of February 5, 18 students were arrested. Upreti and Basnett were charged with multiple cases, as per the FIR filed by the Additional Chief Secretary GP Upadhaya in Sadar Police Station.

The ruling party Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s spokesperson Jacob Khaling also called the students ‘anti-nationals’.

Also Read: Justice Katju writes in support of expelled students of Geyzing College

The students have been demanding an academic building in the decade-old educational institute.

Set up in 2011 with an allotted campus, SGC Geyzing started its first batches in a private building. The campus infrastructure was to be completed by 2015, but till 2020 there were only three buildings — a girls’ hostel, a library and a guest house.

In 2020, the students petitioned the education department and even the education minister. Subsequently, Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay called them for a meeting in Gangtok, and the Joint Secretary of Higher Education, Subha Mukhia gave the group of students a written assurance that not only will the ongoing construction be finished within three months. The rest would be done in 18 months.

However, things got stalled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but even since September 2020, when the entire nation entered the unlock phase, negligible progress has been made. The government claims it is because of a lack of manpower but the students disagree.

The students went to Gangtok to raise these concerns and discuss this with the education minister on February 5. However, that did not materialise and instead turned into an alleged wrangle after which the state’s additional chief secretary, GP Upadhaya, filed an FIR the same night over the phone, resulting in the arrest of Pravin Upreti and Praveen Basnett.

Subsequently, the college authorities expelled the four students stating violation of college rules.

Also Read: Sikkim: 4 students expelled from Geyzing College for protests against construction delay

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