Protesting JNU students stopped, several detained during march to Parliament
Hundreds of students of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were stopped and several detained on Monday as they started their march to Parliament to demand a “complete rollback” of the recent raise in hostel fee.
Security forces stopped the students, carrying posters and shouting anti-fee hike slogans, as they started their march in defiance of prohibitory orders under Section 144, around half a kilometre from JNU campus in south Delhi.
“Section 144 was imposed in the entire New Delhi district. The exact number of detainees is yet to be ascertained,” a senior official said.
The prohibitory orders, which bans the assembly of four or more people at a place, were slapped in the morning to prevent the protests.
However, a group of students marched to Parliament on the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament.
JNU students’ union (JNUSU) slammed the “most brutal muzzling of democratic rights in the national capital region” in a statement and alleged they were attacked by the security forces.
“The police used brutal force to disrupt our peaceful march and several students have been injured. Many students, including the office bearers, have been detained,” the union said in the statement.
JNUSU also referred to the three-member committee formed by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) to resolve the deadlock between students and administration, saying it must “announce the withdrawal of both illegal draft IHA manual and the illegal Executive Council decisions about its adoption are held in abeyance.”
It also demanded that JNUSU and JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) must be treated as stakeholders. “An explicit assurance must be given that any decision on the manual will be taken as per proper and established process,” it said.
“The established process in JNU cannot and must not be short-circuited in the name of any High powered Committee decisions. The JNUSU, as the elected representative of the students, is part of this established process and any intervention on the JNU issue must explicitly invite the active participation of JNUSU. This high powered committee must not be set a precedent but be corrective,” it said.
The union reiterated its demand for the removal of JNU’s vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar “must be removed for his complete mismanagement of the university”.
“The MHRD should hold the JNU VC and his administration accountable as he is responsible for the disruption in the normal functioning of JNU. The terms of reference of the MHRD committee cannot be merely to “advise the university administration”. ”
Earlier in the day, JNUTA had criticised the police presence outside the university, saying it was to stop students from marching to Parliament.
“The JNUTA also expresses its grave concern at the massive police deployment and barricading at the gates of the JNU campus, which on the face of it appears to be only for the purpose of preventing the students from taking out their planned March to Parliament,” the association said.
“Any such measure or use of force to thwart the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed democratic rights and to impede the students from peacefully taking their voice beyond the campus would be extremely unfortunate and the JNUTA hopes that no such situation will eventually arise,” it added.
JNU students have been protesting against the new hostel manual over fee hike, curfew timings, and implementation of dress code since last month.
While the administration removed the clauses on curfew timing and dress code, it introduced a 50% fee concession for students belonging to families from Below Poverty Line.
The students’ union rejected the changes, saying the hike would still impact students adversely.