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Regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

JNU students to meet panel set up by government

Union blames VC, seeks his exit

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 19.11.19, 08:49 PM
Leg in a cast, a JNU student attends a media conference in New Delhi on Tuesday

Leg in a cast, a JNU student attends a media conference in New Delhi on Tuesday Picture by Prem Singh

JNU students have demanded the resignation of vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar a day after facing police violence, blaming him for the circumstances that led to their ongoing protest against a hostel fee hike.

The students’ union, however, expressed its trust in a “high power committee” the human resource development ministry had set up on Monday to find a solution, and which the students will meet on Wednesday.

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Some 15 to 20 among the students injured in the police violence attended a campus news conference that the students’ union held on Tuesday. Among them was Shashibhushan Pandey, a blind student who had been knocked unconscious by the police.

“Male police manhandled and groped female students and the behaviour of the state machinery on unarmed students is beyond shameful,” a students’ union statement said.

The teachers, some of whom too were assaulted on Monday after they came to the protest site to interact with the students, held a march on the campus on Tuesday to condemn the police action.

“Today, we demanded the removal of the vice-chancellor,” said Mohammed Danish, students’ union joint secretary.

“He is entirely responsible for the present movement. Even though our agitation has reached the 23rd day, he did not bother to meet us once.”

The students are protesting a new hostel manual that almost doubles the hostel fees, raising them above the annual stipend of Rs 60,000 a non-NET fellowship brings and making them unaffordable for two in five boarders.

The students say the manual, passed “via a sham of an executive council meeting”, is an “instrument to push out hundreds of students from being able to access quality higher education”.

On Wednesday morning, the 42 elected students’ union councillors and union office-bearers will meet the ministry committee, which held the first round of meetings with the university administration on Tuesday evening. The panel is expected to hand in its report within three days.

“We will cooperate with the committee,” Danish said. “We hope they will understand the hardship of the students and recommend a complete rollback of the hostel fee hike.”

On Monday, a students’ union team had met a joint secretary of the HRD ministry.

The students’ union has demanded reservation in hostel seats for students from socially backward sections, and a new manual prepared in consultation with the students.

The ministry committee is headed by a former acting chairperson of the University Grants Commission, V.S. Chauhan, and includes current commission secretary Rajnish Jain and the All India Council for Technical Education chairperson, Anil Sahasrabuddhe.

According to the students, the police had switched off the lights on Monday evening as the students were dispersing and assaulted whoever was around. A teacher was kicked, punched and caned and a journalist left with a gash in the head.

Andha’ protest

The JNU Visually Challenged Students Forum and the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) condemned the “insensitive attitude” of the police.

Pandey, a member of the forum and a students’ union councillor, said he was assaulted although he had told the police about his visual impairment.

In turn, the police said: “Andha hai toh protest karne kyon aata hai (If you are blind, why have you come to protest)?” a forum statement said.

The NPRD expressed solidarity with the students’ protest and their demands for a fee rollback.

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