Students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University said they were ready to undertake a march to parliament “10 times” if their demands were not met.
Their response came a day after police stopped the students’ march to the parliament.
The students, who are demanding the resignation of JNU Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, have alleged the Delhi police were “trying to break the backbone” of the protests by taking many of them into detention.
On Monday, hundreds of JNU students staged a march to parliament, on the opening day of the winter session, to protest against a hike in hostel and mess fees. However, the police stopped the protesters mid-way, leading to a scuffle, which led the students to stage a sit-in, that in turn led to massive traffic snarls across central Delhi.
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh said the police detained” at least a hundred students including me, and Satish (general secretary), just to make sure the high-powered meeting with the secretary (of the Human Resource Development Ministry) does not take place.”
According to Ghosh, when the meeting took place late on Monday night, they were told that the vice chancellor and registrar would not attend.
“We have made it clear in the meeting that the agitation will stop only after all our demands are accepted, and if the V-C has a problem with that then we demand his resignation,” she said at a press conference at the JNU administration block.
The students are demanding restoration of the reservation for SC/STs in hostel accommodation and have rejected a proposal for a 10% hike in hostel rates every year. They have also demanded a rollback of a proposal to include the salary of contractual workers in the mess bill.
The students have conveyed their demands to the government.
They are also demanding that the protesting students should not face any inquiry.
Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between some TV journalists and students during the press conference.
The JNUSU, which had called the press conference to speak about Monday’s incidents, got upset over some pointed questions posed by some of the journalists.
This led to a verbal duel between the two sides and a scuffle after which the press conference was called off. Later, the press conference was resumed after some journalists were told to leave.
Police yesterday registered two cases against the students over Monday’s clashes.
The issue trended on Twitter yesterday, with strong reactions from both supporters and those opposed to them.
One user commented: “JNUProtests for the future generations of the poor of this country who wish to take admission in JNU.” A tweet by another user said: “If fee hike continues, only rich can get that opportunity,” accompanied by hashtags StandWithJNU, EmergencyinJNU, TaxPayersWithJNU, JNUBachao, JNUBachaoAndolan, and JNUShowdown.
Another Twitter user said the “Govt in 6 years has not made a Single University... But in 6 years they are trying to Destroy JNU, Destroy BHU, Destroy ALU, Destroy Jadavpur university”.
A user took aim at the facilities provided to lawmakers, pointing out that they enjoyed free accommodation, free electricity up to 50,000 units, free medical facilities, free water, free travelling allowance, free telephone facility, and subsidised meals. “And then shouts ‘JNU student are Freeloaders’”.
Another said: “I strongly condemn the action of Delhi police against innocent JNU student. Modi government doesn’t want poor students to get higher education. Shame on Delhi police and Modi Sarkar. The police atrocities on peaceful students are a blot on democracy. Education is our basic right.”
A user opposed to the agitating JNU students remarked: “Just shut down the JNU for some years”.
Another Twitter user added hashtags JNULootsTaxPayers, JNUWallOfShame, JNUBachaoAndolan and remarked: “Enough is enough... go see IIT or IIM or many private colleges in India. Ban all campus politics from JNU. Increase fees on par with IIM. Close MA Mphil”.
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