JNUSU president tweeted out photos of CRPF personnel on campus on Monday.
“Hum cheen ke lenge Azaadi!” the words resounded in the air once again on a cozy October day, taking everyone back to the legendary protests led by students of this centralised university and epitomized in Kanhaiya Kumar back in 2016.
This time, the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were protesting the fee hike that was thrust upon them after a closed-door meeting by the administration. Under the new rules, the Inter-Hall Administration (IHA) increased the hostel fees by around INR 2,000. A further hike in mess fee and room rent took the increase to INR 4,000. The students would also have to pay a refundable amount of INR 12,000 as security deposit, up from INR 5,500 earlier.
But, it is not just the fee hike the students are protesting. The new manual by the IHA also comes with renewed guidelines which effectively ban the movement of the students on campus after 11 PM. Clause 2.5.2 of the new manual reads, "The residents should be back in their respective hostels latest by 11 PM or by half an hour after time for library closing, whichever is later. Students who are found outside their respective hostel premises after the stipulated time and involving in any violence or otherwise disturbing the peace on campus and privacy of JNU community will be evicted from hostel forthwith, apart from any other disciplinary action by the University."
Similarly, it also bans the entry of women scholars in men's hostels and vice-versa. Clause 2.5.5 read, "Male visitors including male students or guests shall not be allowed in girls/women hostels except that bonafide male guests may be permitted by Mess Warden in the dining halls of girls’ hostels. Similarly, female visitors (including girl students) may not be allowed in the dining halls of Men's Hostels.”
Speaking to Newsclick, former president of the JNU Students’ Union said, “JNU, being a public-funded university is now getting privatised, and the brunt will be borne by non other than students from SC (scheduled castes), ST (scheduled tribes) and OBC (other backward castes) communities. For example, Section 2.2.5 of the current Hostel Manual, which contained the constitutionally mandated scheme of reservations, along with the policy of priority hostel allotment to SC/ST students is completely missing. Annexure III, IV, V, VI, VII, X, and XI containing the specific details of application of reservation policy for OBC and PH/VH (physically handicapped/visually handicapped) students has been completely removed. Now, where will these students go as the campus is already struggling with deficit of hostels? Apparently, the administration has no answers.”
The IHA passing all items on its agenda without even considering having a dialogue with the students, irked the students’ union.
Protesting against this act of not being given a chance at representing their issues at the meeting, some JNU students did not allow the Dean of Students (DoS) UmeshKadam from leaving the IHA meeting venue. He cited ill health, but the students were sure that he ‘faked’ the health issues, The Indian Express reported.
A statement issued by the students’ union, along with other student groups like Chhatra RJD and BAPSA, said the draft hostel manual also included “massive fines and punishments for expressing dissent” and wanted to convert JNU campus into a “prison”.
Continuing the protest Tuesday, JNUSU called for a university strike and double-locked the DoS office. Not too long ago, the DoS had threatened to lock the JNUSU office, claiming the union was not officially notified, and the office could be “misused”.
JNUSU president AisheGhosh said, “When we went to the (DoS) office around 12 pm, it was locked. Students felt we should also lock it, as the admin threatened to lock our office.”
UmeshKadam on his part said that the fee was hiked because it hadn’t been revised in 19 years, adding that the administration would take strict action against those who locked his office.
The protesters marched across the campus, calling for a shutdown with slogans such as “JNU aaj band hai, kalbhi band rahega”. JNU is closed today and will stay closed tomorrow. Slogans of InquilabZindabad and Azadi too echoed. They didn’t spare even Vice Chancellor MamidalaJagadesh Kumar. “Galigali main shorhai, Mamidalachorhai,” they shouted. “Mamidala is a thief.”
Today, almost a week after the protests, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been called to the JNU campus tweeted JNUSU President N SaiBalaji.
Earlier, JNU Vice Chancellor MamidalaJagadesh Kumar had clarified the varsity’s decision by putting out a tweet that said that the change in curfew and dress code were ‘rumours’ and that there was ‘no massive hike in fee’ or ‘curbs on free movement in the campus’.
The move of deploying the CRPF personnel came after students took the decision to march to the Vice Chancellor’s residence. Students termed it another intimidation tactic by the varsity. Even last night, we received a notice warning over our scheduled protests,” said JNU students’ union vice president Saket Moon.
While students noticed paramilitary troops on the west gate of the campus, the Delhi police has denied the same saying that the troops were only stationed outside the campus as a precautionary measure regarding the protest. No policeman is inside the campus,” DCP DevenderArya said.
Students say that the administration is now scared because of the sheer number of people that have come together as one to protest against its draconian decision. Even when the pamphlets and warnings about not holding protests did not work, the administration resorted to scare tactics by placing the CRPF troops in view of the students.
Meanwhile, the students show no signs of backing down from the demand of the rollback of the fee hike. In this regards, it has won. The registrar, Pramod Kumar has put out a press note saying that the provosts of all the Khands will be having a meeting with the hostel presidents on November 6, 2019 to listen in detail to the students’ concerns and has also appealed the students to resume academic activities.
A week into the protest, students are still trying to get an audience with the Vice Chancellor. Notwithstanding the threat that further protests would be in contempt of the decision of the Delhi High Court, the students are now determined that they won’t back down.
Fee Hike in JNU: Another Attack on Higher Education
When and why JNUSU President SaiBalaji wrote an open letter to PM Modi
Youth frighten Modi Regime says Fatima Nafis, JNU student Najeeb's mother
JNU model for Jamia? Protests invite Lathi charge
Students protest against 900% MTech fee hike, demand rollback
Stay against ‘Inquiry’ against 48 Teachers at JNU for attending Protests: Delhi HC