Members of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Visually Challenged Students Forum were on Wednesday stopped from going to the new police headquarters to protest against the alleged lathicharge on protesting students on Monday, reported PTI. The varsity students have been protesting for the last three weeks against the university’s decision to revise hostel fees,
The bus in which they were travelling was instead taken to Vasant Kunj police station and later to the old police headquarters at ITO.
The Delhi Police have been accused of beating up JNU students and using baton-charges to control the demonstrations in New Delhi on November 18. In one of the videos of the assault, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, a visually-impaired councillor of the university students’ union, was seen being rounded up by the police.
Pandey alleged that he was beaten up by the police despite informing them that he is visually-impaired. He was taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre after the incident.
Meanwhile, another students’ delegation went to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, reported ANI. This comes two days after the ministry appointed a high-powered committee to hold discussions with students and administration for a peaceful resolution of all pending matters.
The committee comprises former University Grants Commission Chairman VS Chauhan, UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain and All India Council for Technical Education Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe. It aims to restore the “normal functioning” of JNU through “dialogue with all stakeholders and to advise the university administration for resolution of contentious issues”, a government order said.
On Monday, hundreds of students were stopped from marching towards Parliament. A day later, the Delhi Police registered two first information reports in connection with the protest march. One FIR was registered against unknown protestors for allegedly violating prohibitory orders, obstructing police officers from discharging duties, and causing hurt. The second FIR was filed for the alleged damage caused to public property at Aurobindo Marg in South Delhi. According to the police, almost 30 police personnel and 15 students were injured during the eight-hour protest.
The protests and the police action caused an uproar in Parliament as the Opposition accused government of using force to suppress students, who have been protesting for the past three weeks against a draft hostel manual that also has provisions for a dress code and curfew timings.
Meanwhile, JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar defended the revised hostel charges.
“If you look at the numbers, it appears there is a sudden increase,” he told the Hindustan Times in an interview. “But the base value, 10 rupees, that was fixed 40 years ago, was too low. If it was 10 paise then and you make it one rupee now, people would have said it’s a huge jump. Times have changed, and if you want to provide better facilities for students, they have to pay for the services.” He added that for electricity and water, the students are only asked to pay for what they consume.
Asked about the FIRs against the students, Kumar said any violent or unlawful act were “unwelcome in a varsity like JNU”.