“Our protest is for the freedom of this university,” Kuldeep Singh, an HNLU student said, echoing the sentiments of many students of the Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) in Raipur, Chhattisgarh who have been protesting since 27 August against an administration that has been largely blind to their demands for years.The epicenter of the protest was against the extension of Dr Sukh Pal Singh’s tenure, the former vice chancellor of the university. The extension was declared void by the the Chhattisgarh High Court on 27 August, yet the HNLU student body association learned that Singh was planning to appeal the order, Live Law reported.Overnight, the protest branched out to represent India’s higher education troubles, ranging from a lax administration to various other arbitrary rules against students – like curfew timings for the library and hostel. Cases of sexual harassment have also been brought to the forefront.A list of 14 demands have been put forth by the students, ranging from the removal of library and hostel curfew timings to appointment of independent wardens. A mechanism for student redressal has also been asked for.Peaceful Protestors Called ‘Lynch Mob’The silent overnight protest that took shape had massive repercussions in the days to come. On the third day of the protest, Principal Secretary Ravi Shankar Sharma was appointed interim Vice-Chancellor.After eight days of protesting, representatives of the HNLU student body met Chhattisgarh Law Minister Mahesh Gagda and Principal Secretary Law RS Sharma in Raipur on Tuesday, 4 September, seeking to resolve the issue.Students held flashlights and marched through the campus, urging solidarity from their teachers, only to be declared a “lynch mob” by their own faculty.People have been asking us, if this has been going on for 9 years, why is it that no student spoke out against it? It took me 5 years and 700 people behind me to ask for my rights... a crowd of peaceful protesters was called a lynch mob... we are all stakeholders and have something to lose. That answers the question as to why we did not come out earlier.Srishti Ghoshal, HNLU StudentMoral Policing, Curfews Inhibit MovementWomen protesting against the university have also alleged moral policing by hostel wardens. They have protested the fact that teachers doubled up as wardens, exposing students to teachers’ biases. One of the demands put forth to rectify this was the appointment of independent wardens.A student was quoted by Firstpost saying, “I was caught drunk and she (the hostel warden) called my parents and said that I wear ‘party clothes’ to class and hang out with the wrong sort of boys.”Another student said:As students, we study the rule of law, and how the law is to function in the everyday, how the university is to function. Why then, do we hear about instances of sexual harassment?HNLU StudentThe students say the rules are “arbitrary, selective and sexist”, and inhibit their movement around campus, Indian Express reported.The men flout these rules, but nobody says anything. For the women students, it is different. If someone doesn’t enter the hostel by 10:30 pm, their parents are called, or a show-cause is given. By 11 pm, you are not only expected to be in your hostel but in your room.An HNLU Student to The Indian ExpressImportantly, students say one faculty member holds numerous positions, leading to an inefficient and muddled administration.The days-long protest has garnered support from other universities and politicians.In essence, #HNLUKiAzaadi reiterates the long-suppressed right to be a student. It remains to be seen whether the protest, and its aftermath, brings them justice. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.