Showcause notice to 24 JNU students for not vacating library while night curfew was in place in Capital
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has issued show-cause notices to 24 students for refusing to vacate the varsity’s central library in April past the night curfew put in place by the Delhi government, and have been asked for an explanation by August 27.
The notices have been issued based on a complaint registered by the chief security office.
“A complaint dated April 22, 2021 against you has been received in the chief proctor’s office from chief security office. In the said complaint, it has been stated that you were instructed to vacate the library as there was an announcement of night curfew on April 16, 2021 from Delhi government which you had refused and this act has violated the Covid-19 guidelines implemented in the university and government of India,” a show-cause notice from the university proctor’s office said.
The notice also added that the students “explain their position” by August 27.
“Upon failing your submission of deposition on the date and time mentioned, it shall be presumed that you have nothing to say in this matter and that you agree with the complaint. In such circumstances, the matter will be decided in your absence,” the notice issued on July 28 said.
The Delhi government on April 6 imposed a night curfew between 10pm and 5am in the national capital amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
The complaint also states that along with security guards instructing students not to enter the library after 10pm, announcements about the night curfew were made by security officers and on the PA system. Students present in the library, however, said there was little clarity on the protocol in place at the time.
A student who has received the notice, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We went to the library as usual after dinner because students were previously allowed to study there till early morning. I had to work on assignments and planned to study till late at night. The allegations levelled against us state that we refused to vacate the library premises but there was no such instruction by anyone that day including the guards. There were some announcements but there wasn’t any clarity on it and we didn’t hear it.”
Activists in the university said the administration was trying to “intimidate students”.
Kaushik Raj, a PhD student and All India Students Association (AISA) member, said most of the notices he received in the past one month were related to protests on reopening campuses or allocation of hostel seats.
“I have received around 20 notices in the past one month. Most of them are related to violation of Covid-19 guidelines on gatherings organised in the past six months on various issues including reopening of campus, demanding salary for sanitation workers, or allocation of hostel seats. Before the current administration, students rarely received show-cause notices due to protests or students’ resistance movements and the proctor office took up issues of indiscipline like fights or other matters. The political targeting and intimidating of students have begun under this vice-chancellor.”
A senior official from the security office said, “The incident happened in April and I don’t remember much about it. The chief proctor office can explain why the notice was issued in July.” Despite repeated calls and messages, vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar and chief proctor Rajnish Kumar Mishra did not comment on the matter.