In Kathmandu, students leaders of the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) are on a hunger strike to demand action regarding negligence of Tribhuvan University’s (TU) as well as broader educational reform.
Madhab Pant, a PhD scholar of Diplomatic History at TU and ANNFSU Chairperson, Sudesh Parajuli, launched their hunger strike on July 12. Along with ANNFSU, they compiled a thirteen-point charter of demands for educational reform.
Reportedly, Pant’s medical condition has worsened in the past seven days from observing the hunger strike and he was admitted to a local hospital after his blood pressure plummeted.
ANNFSU, the organization leading the strike, is the sister organization and student wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Socialist). Headquartered in the national capital Kathmandu, the party was established in 1965 to fight for the rights, empowerment and welfare of students in Nepal.
Peoples Dispatch spoke to Pramesh Pokhrel, peasant activist and member of Communist Party of Nepal Unified Socialist, or CPN (US), who highlighted that the situation at the Tribhuvan University has been deteriorating for several years now, compounded by the 2015 Nepal earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the fasting students, Pokhrel said, “University administration and the Vice Chancellor have refused to meet the students, and had even denounced the charter of demands last week. Some of the protesting students were arbitrarily arrested by the police, following this the union decided to launch the hunger strike.”
Out of the eleven universities in Nepal, TU is the largest and oldest, established in 1959 as the first national institution for higher education.
TU has been in headlines in recent years regarding its deterioration. Students have reported issues of insufficient and inhabitable infrastructure, corruption, a hike in meeting allowances, dubious appointments to administrative posts and the mismanagement of examinations.