Congress leader Hardik Patel on Friday voiced his support to the students’ protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. The students have been protesting for the last three weeks against the administration’s decision to revise the fees in the hostel and mess.

In a statement on Twitter, Patel said the students were not fighting a battle for themselves but for the future generations. He alleged there was a “conspiracy to end JNU” and that certain forces were misleading the youth on the basis of religion and nationalism.

“The country’s youth are engrossed in fake nationalism and religion instead of gaining education and are indifferent towards the movement in JNU,” Patel said. “In fact, everyone should participate in this movement.”

The Congress leader said if the public did not want to either get educated or their children to get education, they should tell the JNU students to stop their agitation. “They should tell the students that ‘we want slavery instead’,” the statement read.

Earlier in the day, the JNU administration defended its move to raise the fees, saying the institution was facing a financial deficit of over Rs 45 crore. The authorities claimed they were unable to pay the salaries of 450 contractual employees as the University Grants Commission no longer allowed such payments from the salary head of the budget.

The institute also pointed out that it does not charge developmental fees like other universities.

On Monday, hundreds of students were stopped from marching towards the Parliament. A day later, the Delhi Police had 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.

Left, BJP leaders clash in Rajya Sabha over JNU row

Meanwhile, members of the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party clashed in the Rajya Sabha over the protests in JNU. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader KK Ragesh called for a judicial inquiry into police action against the protestors.

Ragesh questioned why civil liberties of the protestors were being “suppressed”. Following his demand, BJP leader Prabhat Jha raised the matter of “defacement” of a still-to-be-unveiled statue of Vivekananda in the campus. Jha demanded the Centre should monitor the activities in the university after alleging that protesting students had raised anti-India slogans.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu intervened when Ragesh brought up the police action on the students, and said that submissions on only the matter of raised fee, and the statue’s defacement were admitted.

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