Education is the most expensive commodity in today’s world. It is one of the most needed things and costliest as well. Something related to this ‘costliness’ is happening in JNU right now and students are protesting against it.
JNU Students On Protest
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union is protesting against the administration. Students said that the university is facing an “academic emergency”. They are demanding the removal of Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar.
The removal of Jagadesh Kumar is being demanded because the students think that he is incapable to carry out the role of a Vice-Chancellor in any reasonable and democratic manner. Along with this, their demands also include the withdrawal of the draft of the hostel manual.
The reason for the protest in JNU is, there has been a hike in the hostel fee. The student’s union has been on a strike for close to a fortnight, demanding the withdrawal of the draft of the hostel manual. In this draft, the service charge of Rs, 1,700 are introduced. Also, the one-time refundable mess security fee has been hiked from Rs. 5,500 to Rs. 12,000.
The fee has been increased to a disturbing amount. Earlier, the rent for a single-seater room was Rs.20 per month. This amount has been hiked to Rs. 600 per month. While the rent for a double-seater room was Rs. 10 per month, which is now Rs. 300 per month. The hostel manual also has also included provisions for dress code and curfew timings.
The escalated protest
The protest has been escalated as the students marched from the JNU campus to the AICTE building. They broke the barricades, where the third convocation of the varsity was being held.
The students protested for nine hours, shouting the slogans, “Humein chahiye Azaadi curfew se, dress code se”. The students’ union also had the support of other parties like BAPSA, Kshatra RJD, and Congress-backed NSUI.
Students in their statement said,
“Due to the 999 percent 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.”
JNU is a university where a majority of the students come from the most marginalized backgrounds in this country. Hence, a number of students who were receiving the degree also joined the protest leaving the convocation.
The students union office-bearers submitted a memorandum of demands to HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal. He was stuck inside the venue for close to six hours due to protest. The MHRD Minister met the students union, but the VC continued to hide and refused to meet the students.
The students reiterated their demands and said a hostel meeting should be conducted in the presence of student representatives. All the “regressive parts” pertaining to clothing/ timings/ etc should be revoked.
They also demanded that the 999 percent fee hike from 2,740 to 30,100 annually must be rolled back immediately. The JNUTA Teachers’ held a meeting on the campus and unanimously adopted a resolution “condemning the brutal police action against peacefully protesting JNU students which severely injured a large number of them”.
The Role of the Police
Police were present at the protest site in order to take control of the situation. Over 600 security personnel were deployed to handle the protest by the JNU students.
Some of the students claimed that the police used force against them and several of them were injured in the protest. However, the police said that the students were not lathi-charged. A senior police officer said that they had orders not to use force on-the-ground. They were not even carrying their weapons.
“We were not even carrying lathis. The mild force had to be used to quell the protesters but students were not lathi-charged. In fact, many of our policemen and women were injured but we do not want to highlight the injuries we sustained.”
The situation at the venue was a nightmare, many reporters were also injured in the protest as they were allegedly heckled and pushed away by the crowd.
A few months back, a similar hike in fee was introduced in the Indian Institute Of Technology (IIT). The fee was hiked up to 10 times reaching Rs 2 lakh per year. This kind of decision by the administration can have a severe effect on the career of students.
Many students fail to cope up with the increased fee and they dropped out of the college in the middle. Hence, the government should understand that these types of decisions can make a big impact on the education of the student.