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JNUSU exam boycott

Police action on two student marches has left several students, a teacher and a journalist badly injured
The university administration has also filed a case of contempt against police and the students for protests at the administrative block. In a separate case, Delhi High Court has ordered police to secure the building on Thursday if the protest continues.
The university administration has also filed a case of contempt against police and the students for protests at the administrative block. In a separate case, Delhi High Court has ordered police to secure the building on Thursday if the protest continues.
Telegraph file picture

Pheroze L. Vincent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 11.12.19, 09:47 PM

With no tangible results after two days of talks with the Centre, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union is going ahead with its boycott of exams on Thursday.

The university administration has also filed a case of contempt against police and the students for protests at the administrative block. In a separate case, Delhi High Court has ordered police to secure the building on Thursday if the protest continues.

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The strike against the almost doubling of hostel charges, which makes them unaffordable to 40 per cent of boarders, has led to gheraos of officials and confrontation with police for over 40 days.

Police action on two student marches has left several students, a teacher and a journalist badly injured.

On campus, students have repeatedly confronted security guards over control of administrative and academic buildings, and have resolved to boycott exams starting on Thursday. The police have visited homes of students in several states to question their family members over their involvement in the agitation.

After around four hours of talks on Wednesday evening between the four JNUSU office-bearers and ministry of human resource development officials, the ministry sees a solution —which the JNUSU says it is unaware of.

The ministry’s record of its discussion with the varsity administration and the JNUSU over the last two days was accessed by The Telegraph. It says “agreements have been reached” on the following points.

The major component of the increased hostel fees — new introduced utility and service charges estimated at Rs 2,000 a month — would be borne by the University Grants Commission “till further orders”.

The increased room rent of Rs 300 for a twin-seater room, and Rs 600 for a single room remains the same, with a 50 per cent rebate for those below a poverty line that is yet to be defined.

The Academic Council would be requested to “give relaxation up to two weeks” for the lost academic period —which means that exams starting on Thursday should be deferred.

The JNUSU will call off its strike and not hold demonstrations near any “administrative, academic blocks, and in the residential areas of the faculty and administration” — which practically restricts protests to playgrounds, hostels and canteens.

The administration, which has filed several police complaints and started inquiries against students, would take a “lenient view of incidents that occurred since October 2019.”

JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh told this paper: “We have not agreed on anything. The officials did not say anything about reservation (for SC, ST, OBC and the disabled) in hostels which has been removed in the illegally introduced new hostel manual. We insisted that the illegal manual be revoked for normalcy to return on campus. We asked if there would be any agreement that we, as student representatives, and the university administration will have to sign. The reply was negative, which means that nothing decided in these talks will be binding.”

She added that the strike would continue for now. “The university authorities have vitiated the atmosphere for talks by filing cases against us, and breached the trust of students by getting the court to send police on campus. Students will protest at the administrative block,” Ghosh said.

On Monday, the varsity’s registrar Pramod Kumar moved the high court to hold the police and students in contempt of a 2017 order prohibiting protests within 100 metres of the administrative block. Students have occupied the building for almost a month, and the administration has complained against the police inaction on several complaints.

On campus, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has said it will ensure that students who wish to appear in exams will be able to do so.

Several skirmishes were reported on Wednesday between ABVP cadre and striking students. The varsity’s rector, Chintamani Mahapatra, has written to all deans and chairpersons to devise an alternative evaluation process in lieu of exams that are being boycotted.

Additional reporting by Basant Mohanty



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