Please provide GKCIET students with valid degree certificate as promised at admission time
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State of West Bengal,
We, the students and citizens of Kolkata, would like to bring to your attention the grim predicament being faced by the students of Ghani Khan Chowdhury Institute of Engineering and Technology (GKCIET), Malda, West Bengal. The sheer degree of deception, coercion, and intimidation that has been perpetrated upon the students is of the gravest concern to us. This is why we are writing to you, as a last resort, to act in this matter as all other bodies and people in positions of authority have failed to do justice to the continuous harassment being meted out to the students of GKCIET.
GKCIET is a technical institute founded in 2010 under the aegis of the central government, and has seen such eminent visitors as former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and former President Dr. Pranab Mukherjee. It was started with a unique modular course structure of 2+2+2 years, with exit points at the end of each of the 2-year modules aimed at benefiting its students through the polishing of their technical and vocational skills. GKCIET began with the promise of certification at three levels, the first equivalent to a school-leaving degree, the second to a technical diploma and the third to a B.Tech, with new students able to join or older ones to exit at each juncture. However, all these grand promises proved to be hollow, the students of GKCIET have been jettisoned by the authorities, deliberately misled and left to fend for themselves. In June 2016, when the first batch of students neared their graduation from B.Tech, rumours were floating about that a degree might not be awarded. Concerned by this, the students approached the authorities, who only then deigned to inform them that GKCIET did not, in fact, have any official affiliation and could not, therefore, grant them any degrees. Stunned at this revelation, they asked what was to become of them. They were told that their training, their hard-earned education would not find recognition in a degree through which they could find gainful employment. The lives of hundreds of students were suddenly thrown into disarray, their futures darkened and their careers in tatters, for no fault of theirs at all.
Faced with these very uncertain and adverse conditions the students of GKCIET began a movement demanding the right to affiliation and recognition. They started a hunger strike which was treated with equal disdain and brutality by both the police and the authorities. However, ultimately, the State Government agreed to intervene and take responsibility for GKCIET. After many more delays, they were informed that the West Bengal State Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Skill Development would grant legitimacy to GKCIET and grant them Certificate and Diploma degrees, while the National Institute of Technology (NIT) would mentor GKCIET and offer its B.Tech course affiliation. Their long struggle seemed to have finally borne fruit, but in fact their troubles are, to this date, far from resolved. Having been delayed significantly in their assessment and admissions processes, they demanded that their examinations be held swiftly to allow Certificate students to move into the Diploma module and the Diploma students to begin their B.Tech schedules without losing academic years. At this point they were thrown into yet another bureaucratic tangle, with the Institute claiming that only the Council could hold their examinations. The incumbent Director of the Institute had informed them that as long as the Council did not vest GKCIET with the right to conduct examinations, the authorities could not proceed with them, fearing further complications at a later date. There is also a lot of confusion surrounding the permanent affiliation of the B.Tech programme, since the arrangement with NIT Durgapur was only on a temporary basis for a year. Furthermore, it has transpired that two students who had secured jobs in the paramilitary services of the Government of India had not been allowed to join because their unique diploma structure was not recognised in the service. All this occurred while they continued their movement to secure their rights and for their hard-earned education to be recognised through a degree which can earn them gainful employment.
The students of GKCIET, as the narration of their extremely turbulent and disturbing experiences would suggest, have been treated with indifference, silence and constant non-cooperation of the GKCIET administration, the State Council and the MHRD, while the police have alternately falsely reassured and repressed the movement. The inhumanity faced by the students can be estimated by the fact that those who fell ill during the protest demonstrations and hunger strikes were not even provided the use of an ambulance.
In the light of the grave circumstances being faced by the students of GKCIET, we would like to declare our unconditional solidarity with the movement and wish to condemn the corruption and coercion of all the institutions involved in the blatant violation of the students’ right to education. We appeal to you, as the representative of the central government in our state, on behalf of all the concerned citizens of West Bengal to please look into this matter with the greatest urgency and ensure that these students are no longer deprived of their basic rights and hard-earned education. We hope you will take the constructive steps required to resolve this matter once and for all as soon as possible.
Citizens of Kolkata
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