JNU students union says stir over hostel fee hike will continue
Following weeks of protest over the hostel fee hike, students’ union members of Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday met the high-powered committee appointed by the ministry of human resources development (MHRD) at Shastri Bhawan to discuss the issue.
However, students made it clear that they would not call off their strike till the new hostel manual is revoked and action is taken against violation of norms and procedures in the functioning of JNU.
JNU students’ union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh said four central panel members of the students’ union and 31 elected councillors met the three-member committee and shared their concerns over what they described as the “repeated violations of the statutory provisions of the university”.
Hostel presidents also met the committee on Wednesday afternoon to apprise them of their concerns. The three-member committee will also be meeting representatives from JNU teachers’ association on Thursday and may visit the university on Friday to meet the students again.
“We put across our view that the Inter Hall Administration (IHA) meeting which passed the fee hike and other unacceptable provisions in the hostel manual was illegal along with its ratification by a sham executive council. We made it clear that any decision affecting the students cannot be passed without the involvement of the elected representatives,” she said.
The Inter Hall Administration is a body which manages the 18 hostels of the varsity. On October 28, the IHA passed the hostel manual without consulting the students’ union members — a move that sparked protests in the university.
JNUSU vice president Saket Moon said the committee has asked for their suggestions to resolve the matter by Friday. “They asked us for our suggestions which we would have put forward if these meetings were held,” he said.
“Our demand is to arrive at a new manual through an acceptable deliberative process. The current manual disregards affirmative action and does not guarantee reservations to SC, ST and PwD students in hostel seats which we cannot accept,” Ghosh said.
Former University Grants Commission chairperson VS Chauhan, who is a member of the committee, said a dialogue has been initiated with the students. “They have shared their concerns in detail with us. We have been apprised of the numbers in detail. The committee will finish meetings with all stakeholders and submit their report as soon as possible.” Students also proposed for a visitorial committee to look into accountability of the JNU administration, including that of the vice chancellor and dean of students.
The JNU unit of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has also called for a march to MHRD on Thursday along with members from Delhi University Students’ Union after the meeting with the MHRD committee. “11 JNUSU councillors belonging to ABVP made straightforward demand for complete rollback of the new hostel manual and fee hike in toto (total) with immediate effect. If the committee cannot provide the solution in the mentioned way, we reject the committee,” said Durgesh Kumar, ABVP JNU president.
PhD representatives from IIT- Delhi also expressed solidarity with JNU students. “We express our solidarity to students from all universities who are fighting against the unjustifiable fee hikes. We see the ongoing fee hikes as a ‘trend’ and request the concerned to immediately interfere and put an end to this,” they said in a statement.