'Academic emergency' at varsity: JNU students demand VC's removal as teachers extend support

The students alleged the varsity is facing an 'academic emergency' created by the administration.

New Delhi: The protesting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) have said the varsity is facing an "academic emergency" and demanded the removal of V-C M Jagadesh Kumar "for his inability to carry out the role of a Vice Chancellor in any reasonable and democratic manner".

They also reiterated their demand for the withdrawal of draft hostel manual.

The students' union has been on a strike for close to a fortnight against demanding withdrawal of the draft hostel manual, in which service charges of Rs 1,700 were introduced and the one-time refundable mess security fee has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000.

The rent for a single-seater room has been increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, while rent for a double-seater room has been increased to Rs 300 per month from Rs 10 per month.

The draft hostel manual also has provisions for dress code and curfew timings, the students' union alleged, even as the administration denied these two claims.

On Monday, the protests against the issue escalated with students marching from JNU campus to the AICTE building, breaking barricades, where the third convocation of the varsity was being held.

They protested for close to nine hours and the air resonated with slogans of "Humein chahiye Azaadi curfew se, dress code se" to the thumping of dhaplis.

The students' union also had the support of other parties like BAPSA,Kshatra RJD and Congress-backed NSUI.

After the protest got over at 7 pm outside the AICTE building, the students moved back to the varsity campus and said they will continue the strike.

In a statement, they said, "Due to the 999 per cent fee hike that is being imposed on us, the University today faces an unprecedented crisis, with an overwhelming number of its students facing a threat to their academic future."

"For a university where a majority of students come from the most marginalized backgrounds in this country, it no wonder that many of the degree receiving students participating in the convocation also joined the protest," they said.

The students' union office-bearers also submitted a memorandum of demands to HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', who was stuck inside the venue for close to six hours due to the protests.

"While the MHRD Minister met the Students Union, it is shameful that the VC continued to hide and refused to meet the students," they said.

The students alleged the varsity is facing an "academic emergency"created by the administration.

Reiterating their demands, they said that a meeting on hostel rules be reconvened in the presence of student representatives and all "regressive parts" pertaining to clothing/timings/etc be revoked.

"The 999 per cent fee hike from 2,740 to 30,100 annually must be rolled back immediately," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) on Monday extended support to the protesting students' union and demanded the varsity's vice-chancellor step down.

The JNUTA Teachers' held a meeting on the campus and unanimously adopted resolution "condemning the brutal police action against peacefully protesting JNU students which severely injured a large number of them".

They teachers also demanded that the JNU Vice Chancellor "at whose behest this action was undertaken" step down from his position.

"The police action was clearly only to defend the obstinate refusal of the Vice Chancellor to engage in any dialogue with students on their concerns," they said.

The JNUTA was of the collective view that the changes in the hostel manual and the steep increase in hostel charges are unacceptable, they said. "It is the University's responsibility to provide residential and mess facilities to students at reasonable cost and hostels cannot be run on a self-financing principle as the new Hostel Manual proposes," they said.

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