Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday briefed Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare and Ministry of Human Resource Development official GC Hosur about the steps being taken to restore normalcy on campus.
“All efforts are being made to facilitate winter semester registration for willing students and a conducive environment for their academic pursuits,” he added. A ministry official repeated Kumar’s claim in a statement to PTI.
This was the ministry’s first meeting with Kumar since a masked mob and injured at least 34 students and teachers on the campus on Sunday evening. The vice chancellor had skipped a meeting convened by the ministry on Monday. Khare and Hosur reminded Kumar that JNU was a premier university and should be maintained that way, The Indian Express reported.
Meanwhile, Kumar also took a dig at actor Deepika Padukone, who visited the JNU campus on Tuesday evening to express solidarity with the students and teachers who were attacked, ANI reported. “I would like to ask all those great personalities coming to support agitators, what about thousands of students and teachers who are deprived of their rights of doing research and teaching?” he asked. “Why can’t you stand with them?”
The vice chancellor said JNU might approach its alumni to create a fund to help poor students affected by the hostel and mess fee hikes. Protests against the university administration’s move had started in November, and did not end despite a partial rollback. The JNU Students’ Union decided to boycott the winter semester registration in protest against the increase in fees. The administration and ABVP supporters have blamed Left student groups of unleashing violence against students who want to register for the semester.
Kumar also asked political parties not to politicise the mob attack. “Please leave us alone and let us do our work,” he said, referring to the campus visits of a Congress fact-finding team and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi. On Tuesday, the vice chancellor had called the mob attack an “unfortunate” incident, and urged students to return to campus.
The students’ union as well as some political parties and other student groups have called for Kumar’s resignation. Earlier on Wednesday, Congress leader P Chidambaram asked Kumar to “follow his own advice” and quit the post. “The VC of JNU wants students to ‘put the past behind’,” Chidambaram tweeted. “He should follow his advice. He is the past. He should leave JNU.”
On Monday, Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” had said educational institutions cannot be allowed to become “political dens”, and vowed to take strong action against those who perpetrated the violence at JNU.