Fee hike: JNUTA members demand complete roll-back, some disassociate over differences

NEW DELHI, Nov 21: The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) met the HRD Ministry-appointed high-powered panel on Thursday and demanded a complete roll- back of the hiked hostel fee besides removal of the university’s vice-chancellor, even as some teachers disassociated themselves from the group owing to their “indifference” towards the alleged attack on their colleagues by protesters.

Amid the talks to resolve the impasse, members of RSS-affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) tried to march towards Shastri Bhawan, that houses the HRD Ministry, on Thursday demanding scrapping of the panel. However, they were stopped on Parliament Street by police and over 160 of them were detained.

The three-member panel was constituted on Monday to recommend ways to restore normal functioning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and mediate between the administration and students who have been protesting for over three weeks over the hostel fee hike.

“The HRD Ministry panel met the JNUTA representatives which demanded a complete roll-back of the hostel fee hike. In the meeting that last for over two hours, the teachers also demanded removal of the vice-chancellor,” sources said.

The panel will visit JNU campus on Friday to hold a second meeting with the students. The first meeting was held with JNU Students Union (JNUSU) office-bearers, student counsellors and hostel presidents on Wednesday at HRD Ministry.

However, a section of JNU teachers accused the JNUTA of “being hand in glove” with the protesters. They alleged that the students had held a professor hostage for over 24 hours during fee-hike protests.

The students’ agitation has got the support from Sanjaya Baru, the media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Former JNU Students’ Union president N Sai Balaji shared a video in which Baru, a JNU alumnus, said, “At a time when almost every year we are spending almost six billion dollars on Indians studying abroad, it is extremely important to save public universities.”

“Jawaharlal Nehru University is one of the best public universities according to the HRD ministry’s ranking and it is important to ensure that good students can study at affordable costs,” he said.

The agitation over hiked hostel fee escalated on November 11 when thousands of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students clashed with police, leaving HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ stranded for over six hours at the venue of the university’s convocation.

A week later, students staged a march from the university campus to HRD Ministry but were stopped at multiple locations and finally outside the Safdarjung tomb. The protesters alleged that the police had lathicharged and manhandled them, including a blind student, which led to a fresh protest by a group of visually challenged students.

The mother of missing JNU student, Najeeb Ahmed, visited the university on Thursday and met the visually challenged student, Shashi Bhushan Pandey at the campus and expressed solidarity with the cause of the protesting students. (PTI)