The Delhi Police on Monday used water cannons on protesting students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday, News18 reported. They were demonstrating against a draft hostel manual that proposes higher fees, curfew timings and dress code restrictions for students, PTI reported.
Students, who had called for the protest on Sunday, tried to march towards the auditorium where the university was holding its convocation ceremony, with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu as the chief guest.
A statement from the Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union claimed that the revised hike fee was a “whopping 999% more than the earlier one”. It also said that over 40% of the varsity’s students belonged to the category with a yearly income below the poverty line.
“We reject the IHA hostel manual because it is regressive, introduces clauses for fee hike, curfew timings and dress code,” Nandini Sharma, a student from the School of Language said. “We want to speak to the vice-chancellor, he should come out but he is not meeting us. In three years, we have not seen him engage with students.” The student added that the police had manhandled them during Monday’s protests.
Visuals showed that barricades were set up to prevent students from reaching the venue, reported ANI. However, protestors tried to break through the blockade by clashing with the heavy deployment of personnel. Some demonstrators held huge banners reading: “Say no to massive fee hike.”
Union Human Resource Development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who attended the convocation ceremony at AICTE on Monday, was unable to leave the venue and stuck for over six hours as protests escalated. The minister left the convocation venue around 4.15 pm and had to cancel two events scheduled at the Shastri Bhawan after the convocation.
He later met JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh and assured the students that their concerns will be addressed. Protestors, however, refused to move until the vice-chancellor met them, NDTV reported.
“At least 40% students come from poor background,” an unidentified student said, according to India Today. “How will they study here?”
In a meeting on October 28, the university authorities had reportedly decided to raise the rent for a single-seater room in the hostel from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600. The amount for a double-seater room was increased to Rs 300 from Rs 10 per month. The one-time refundable security deposit for the hostel mess was raised from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000, and service charges of nearly Rs 1,700 every month were also introduced.
Members of the JNUSU allegedly barred the additional dean of students, who had approved the revision of the hostel manual, from leaving a classroom for 24 hours, The Indian Express reported. Students said they had asked her to leave only if she would reverse the decisions or set up a meeting for them with the vice chancellor of the university.
However, Vice Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar accused students of keeping the faculty member in “illegal captivity”.
Heavy police personnel has been deployed at the AICTE auditorium in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area since Monday morning in anticipation of the protests. JNUSU called for the protests on Sunday and had asked students to assemble in the campus. They have claimed that the demonstrations will not end until the hostel manual is withdrawn.
The students, who have reportedly been protesting against the proposed changes for over a week now, have claimed that the fee was raised without any consultation with the student union.
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