The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union on Thursday called the administration’s decision to remove department heads and a coordinator for not complying with the institute’s compulsory attendance system “extremely dangerous” and dictatorial. The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association had called for a protest march at 12.30 pm.

The university management issued a circular in December 2017, saying it was planning to make 75% attendance for all courses compulsory. On Tuesday, the varsity set up an inquiry committee against department heads who had complained to the administration against the attendance rule, and then removed seven of them as well as a coordinator.

The JNUSU said on Thursday that the administration had “appointed a set of pro-administration teachers to these posts”. This, the student union said, showed that Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar was “hell bent on running this prestigious university only through brute power and his own puppets, by trampling upon JNU’s academic excellence, its institutional sanctity and its democratic decision-making process.”

The student union claimed that though the meeting of the Academic Council held on December 1 did not pass the compulsory attendance policy, the administration has been “withholding fellowships, threatening students and teachers alike” by perpetuating this “original lie”.

The student union accused the vice chancellor of ruining the varsity’s socially inclusive character through his policies of reducing reservations in courses, political appointments to faculty positions, increasing mess fees and imposing compulsory attendance illegally, and filing First Information Reports and contempt cases against university students.

The JNUSU accused Kumar of harming the “democratic aspirations of millions of poor and marginalised who are looking forward to quality, affordable and egalitarian higher education in this difficult times”. The student union also appealed to the people of India to stand by it and said it would resist the policies of the administration.

JNU Teachers Association calls an emergency meeting

Meanwhile, the JNU Teachers’ Association said the manner in which the administration had issued terminations to departmental heads after 9 pm on Wednesday showed its “haste to put in place a compliant regime”. It asked the JNU faculty to attend an emergency general body meeting on Friday.

“The faculty colleagues who were removed have been ‘punished’ for performing their lawful duty of articulating their faculty colleagues’ views on a particular issue,” the association said.

The JNU Teachers’ Association said the removal of department heads was aimed at “complete silencing of dissent in the highest decisions making bodies of the university such as the Academic Council and the Executive Council”. It said the administration’s order was an attempt to divert attention from other serious issues.