JNU students protest over hostel fee hike; 600 police personnel deployed

November 12, 2019

Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) held a massive protest on Monday, outside the AICTE auditorium where the university convocation ceremony was being held. The convocation was attended by human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu. Thousands of JNU students clashed with the police as their protest over a steep fee hike escalated, leaving Pokhriyal stranded for over six hours at the venue of the varsity’s convocation.

The protest was organised by JNU Student’s Union. Students protested against a steep hike in the hostel fees at the university. The JNUSU has been on a strike against a draft hostel manual approved by the Inter-Hall administration, which has made provisions for a fee hike, a dress code, and strict curfew timings.

The Union said that they will continue the strike until the manual is withdrawn. Around 600 police forces were deployed to handle the protest. They used water cannons and lathis to try and disperse the student.

Atul Sood, who teaches at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development said, “The VC is hell-bent upon asserting his arbitrariness on every occasion. He wants to ensure that this university doesn’t cater to people who have not been historically privileged to afford higher education, which is a constitutional right.” 

He further added, “A non-cooperation movement has to be launched against the VC in all possible ways we can think of,” he said to the audience of more than 50 faculty members and 100 students.”

The university gates were heavily barricaded to restrict a march of more than 3,000 students. Students who managed to get past the barricade were detained by the pre-deployed CRPF and police forces. The police also resorted to lathi-charge, and students allege they were beaten, manhandled and mistreated. A few were reportedly taken to a hospital because of their injuries.

Even after the event ended, paramilitary and police forces were deployed outside the JNU campus till after midnight.  However, a senior police officer, said there were orders from seniors to not use force and the on-ground personnel were not even carrying their weapons. He said, “We were not even carrying lathis. Mild force had to be used to quell the protesters but students were not lathicharged.”

“In fact, many of our policemen and women were injured but we do not want to highlight the injuries we sustained. One of the students bit hard on the hand of one of our women personnel while she was trying to control the crowd,” the officer added.

The students raised slogans like “Police-walo ki ek bimari, Tis Hazari, Tis Hazari”, referring to their clash with lawyers at the city’s Tis Hazari court a few days back. Slogans supporting lawyers, who are on a strike following the clash, were also heard.

When the protests escalated and the students refused to leave the venue, even after the office-bearers were allowed to meet the HRD minister, police in anti-riot gear were brought to the front of the gate and they quelled the protesters to make way for the convoy of the minister around 4.15 pm, an officer said.

After the minister, some protesters too left the venue but the students’ union leaders and several others stayed put and refused to leave till they meet the JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar.

“They finally dispersed at 7 pm and said they would continue their protest against the fee hike in the varsity,” said an officer. 

Source: PTI

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