The Jawaharlal Nehru University’s executive council on Wednesday decided to partially reverse its decision to increase hostel fees following students’ protests against the proposed plan.

“JNU executive committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations,” tweeted Human Resources Development Secretary R Subrahmanyam. “Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS [economically weaker section] students. Time to get back to classes.”

According to the revised charges, the room rent for a single-seater room will be Rs 200 and occupants of a double-seater will be Rs 100. Students will have to pay Rs 5,500 as the caution deposit for the hostel mess, The Indian Express reported. However, service charges of Rs 1,700, which was introduced in the draft hostel manual, will continue to be levied.

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.

Former Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union President N Sai Balaji claimed that the HRD secretary’s tweet on a “major roll back” was misleading. “The JNU admin has only reduced a portion of room rent there by making a reduction of Rs 1,200-Rs 2,400! But in reality the major portion of fee hike remains,” he tweeted.

He pointed out that the provision of service charge remained, adding that “95% of the fee hike remains”. “The curfew timings, ie, 11 pm restriction, closing down 24x7 library reading rooms, dress code and dangerous punishments like rustication, withdrawal of degree and many more still stay!” Balaji wrote.

He alleged that the National Education Policy dictated the privatisation of public varsities to “allow corporates and foreign universities to start business in India”. Balaji called for a complete roll back of the decisions and added that the provision of 10% fee annual increase in the fee remained. “What about students from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and General category,” he asked.

The decision came after protests escalated on Monday with the Delhi Police using water cannons to disperse agitating students. The 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. HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal was stuck inside the JNU convocation venue for over six hours as protests escalated.

The university administration had claimed that it incurred bills of Rs 10 crore per annum on water, electricity, and service charges. The registrar had said in a statement recently that the management was making the payments out of the general funds that it received from the University of Grants Commission. The university also argued that it had not raised the fee in the last 19 years.

The students, however, claimed that the fee was raised without any consultation with the student union.

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