Protests by Jawaharlal Nehru University students over hostel-fee hike became violent as the students clashed with the police and security personnel.
The university held its third convocation, with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu as chief guest, at the AICTE auditorium in Vasant Kunj. While the students broke barricades and raised slogans with placards in their hands, calling Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar a “thief”, police used water cannon to disperse the students.
Students say they were manhandled and lathi-charged by the police. Some students were detained.
Union Human Resource Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank got stuck at the auditorium premises for around three hours. However, officials were quoted as saying by PTI that he met JNUSU members at around 2 pm and listened to their demands. He also assured them with a solution, Indian Express said.
“The Vice Chancellor of JNU has crossed all forms of sanity when the VC brings Police and CRPF to harass and humiliate students outside and inside the campus of JNU. The Vice Chancellor of JNU thus does not possess any basic minimum moral ground to be in JNU anymore,” Nirban Ray, a student at JNU posted on Facebook.
The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) has been on a strike against the Draft Hostel Manual which was approved by the Inter-Hall Administration. They claim that the manual has provisions for the fee hike, curfew timings and dress code restrictions for students.
The union added they will not end the strike till the Hostel Manual is withdrawn.
Here is a statement released by the JNU Students’ Union
JNUSU salutes the spirit of thousands of students who are resisting the fee hike and imposition of regressive and patriarchal rules in the name of Hostel Manual. Amidst this ongoing struggle and crisis in JNU, the administration conducted the annual convocation. The students in the most spirited and democratic way went to the venue to register their demands and protests before the Honourable Vice President of India and the Union Minister for HRD.
Due to the 999% fee hike that is being imposed on us, the University today faces an unprecedented crisis, with an overwhelming number of its students facing a threat to their academic future. For a university where a majority of students come from the most marginalized backgrounds in this country, no wonder that many of the degree receiving students participating in the convocation also joined the protest. However, it is condemnable that the Delhi Police resorted to unprovoked violence on the students, using water canons. Many students have been injured by this action.
It is the strength and unity and purpose of our cause that has forced the MHRD to take note of our demands. We hope that instead of dilly-dallying and protecting the anti-student measures of the JNU administration, better sense will prevail over the MHRD and all these policies rolled back. We seek an immediate resolution on the part of the MHRD and the JNU administration on this matter.
While the MHRD Minister met the Students Union, it is shameful that the VC continued to hide and refused to meet the studens. It has become amply clear that M Jagadesh Kumar is unfit to carry out the functions of a VC. WE ARE FACING AN ACADEMIC EMERGENCY created by this administration and we will continue to protest for our right to education. We reiterate our clear demands:
1. The meeting on hostel rules be reconvened in the presence of student representatives and all regressive parts pertaining to clothing/timings/etc must be revoked.
2. The 999% fee hike from 2740 to 30100 annually must be rolled back immediately.
3. The JNU VC must be removed for his inability to carry out the role of a Vice-Chancellor in any reasonable and democratic manner.
We appeal to all the citizens of this country on who’s taxes this university runs. JNU remains a university which is still accessible to the poorest and most marginalized sections in this country and this present move is a brutal attack on not just current students but on all those students from such backgrounds who fight and aspire for higher education. This is why the protest will only intensify if the demands are not dealt with soon.