Unidentified persons were booked on Sunday for alleged vandalism at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi last week during student protests. The university administration claimed that students had allegedly defaced campus property when they were protesting against a proposed increase in fee for the hostels and mess.
Students had pasted posters with slogans such as “No to fee hike” and “Reject Hostel Manual” on the walls of the administrative block of the university. They also allegedly defaced a platform on which a yet-to-be-unveiled statue of Swami Vivekananda stands. Some students had also entered the administrative block on Wednesday and allegedly painted messages on the door of Vice Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar’s office. Such messages were also painted at the rector’s and registrar’s office.
The administration had reportedly provided photos and videos as evidence of the vandalism to the police on Thursday. The chief security officer of the university had filed the complaint, and an FIR was registered against unidentified persons, police said.
The All India Students’ Association has criticised the registration of the case.
Two additional complaints were filed against the defacement of the Vivekananda statue by Professor Buddha Singh, the chairman of Swami Vivekananda Statue Installation Committee, and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
On Friday, the vice chancellor had urged the protesting students to call off their agitation, and said that dialogue was not possible through “coercion and illegal methods”. The students demanded a complete roll-back of the revised fee, which the university’s executive council had partially reversed on Wednesday.
The new charges are Rs 200 for a single-seater room and Rs 100 for a double-seater. Service charges of Rs 1,700, which was introduced in the draft hostel manual, will continue to be levied. The students will also be charged Rs 5,500 as the caution deposit for the hostel mess.
The university authorities in a meeting on October 28 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.
Protesting students have rejected the partial roll-back and described it as an eyewash with former JNU Students’ Union President N Sai Balaji claiming that “95% of the fee hike remains”.
Protests had escalated on Monday when the Delhi Police used water cannons to disperse agitating students. The students, who had called for the protest on November 10, tried to march towards the auditorium where the university was holding its convocation ceremony, with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu as the chief guest. Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal was stuck inside the JNU convocation venue for over six hours as protests escalated.
The university administration has said that it incurs costs 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 Grants Commission. The university also argued that it had not raised the fee in the last 19 years.