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JNU continues to simmer after new attendance policy guidelines

Hundreds of students gathered at the outlawed ‘freedom square’, outside the administrative block to witness the programme that was organised as part of the ongoing agitations against the new attendance policy on campus.

cities Updated: Feb 12, 2018 23:56 IST
Hundreds of students gathered at the outlawed ‘freedom square’, outside the administrative block to witness the programme that was organised as part of the ongoing agitations against the new attendance policy on campus. (Arun Sharma/HT PHOTO)

“Hum Dekhenge. Laazim hain hum bhi dekhenge. Hum Dekhenge...

Sab taaj uchhaale jaayenge, Sab takhth giraaye jaayenge. Hum dekhenge.”

Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s verses, which depict the promise of a day when “mountains of injustice” are “blown away like cotton” resonated at the “cultural resistance programme” organised by the students union at Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday.

Hundreds of students gathered at the outlawed ‘freedom square’, outside the administrative block to witness the programme that was organised as part of the ongoing agitations against the new attendance policy on campus. The movement had gained momentum, after a new circular issued on Thursday said that students could claim their scholarships, appear for exams, or register for the new semester, only if they maintain the minimum required attendance.

The students’ union had called for a strike on Friday, which continued on Monday. On Saturday, over a thousand students had surrounded the vice chancellor’s residence, and later violated the JNU rule and Delhi High court orders prohibiting protests within 100 metres of the administrative block, by assembling near the steps of the building.

As the group, which was supposed to perform on Monday, had to cancel last minute, the students took it upon themselves to sing Faiz’s songs of resistance, revolution and hope, and kept at it even after the lights in the area were cut out.

“This is a clear violations of the high court’s orders and university statutes... The responsibility will be on the leader, and we will be looking into who called the students to the area,” said a university official, who requested anonymity.

The official also questioned why students should oppose attendance if “they are attending classes regularly,” and argued that they were only “formalising” the attendance system that many professors already have in place.

Geeta Kumari, the president of the JNUSU, argued that this was not just about the attendance, even though it might have been the culminating point. The replacement of the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) with an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), the seat cuts at the university, the closure of the dhabas, the administration’s response to the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, among other things all played a role. The demand has now changed from a call to roll back attendance policy, to the resignation of the V-C.

The V-C, and other officials, did not respond to requests for comments.

The JNU Teachers’ Association also held an extended executive committee meeting on Monday, where they decided that they would support the students in their movement and their boycott of attendance, and have reportedly written to the V-C seeking an appointment for Tuesday.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 23:56 IST