Another standoff is in the making at Jawaharlal Nehru University, with students refusing to vacate hostels or pay fines slapped on them for flouting norms while hosting an event that set off campus unrest and a political storm.
A group led by JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Tuesday burnt a copy of the report of the panel that looked into the February 9 gathering. The report found him and 16 others guilty on various counts, including giving wrong information and misrepresenting facts.
Demanding that the punishment be rolled back, Kumar warned of an indefinite hunger strike from Wednesday. “We will not abide by the committee that was rejected by us ever since its formation,” he said.
“We will take out a rally and start an indefinite hunger strike tomorrow. The arbitrary punishment given to students should be rolled back,” he said.
Rival student faction, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad, is already on hunger strike, accusing the administration of giving into pressure from a section of teachers and being lenient on Kanhaiya and others.
“I’m being punished for acting as a patriot. I exposed the anti-national activities on the campus but they have fined me and warned that I should not repeat my actions,” said Sharma, the only ABVP member in the student union. He, like Kumar, has been fined Rs 10,000.
Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid are out on bail after their arrest on sedition charges following the event commemorating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-India slogans were allegedly shouted.
The university rusticated Bhattacharya, Khalid and Mujeeb Gattoo, fined 14 students and barred two former students from the campus. They have till May 15 to follow the orders, officials said.
JNU had constituted a five-member inquiry committee to investigate the February 9 event that led to protests and snowballed into a political controversy, with the opposition and students accusing the Modi government of stifling dissent.
The committee found some students guilty of violating disciplinary norms and disrupting communal harmony on campus.
“The action against students is a way to send chilling effect among students so that we stop raising our voice. The inquiry committee is a proxy war being waged by the government against us,” said JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora.
Students accuse the Centre of trying to saffronise the university known for its Left leanings.
The JNU teachers’ association, which met the vice-chancellor, said they were against the committee as it was set up without following norms. Its inquiry process was faulty as it failed share evidence with the accused students, JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik said. The teachers will hold an emergency general body meeting on Thursday.