The crisis in Jawaharlal Nehru University post the violence on January 5 appears to have become more complicated even after several rounds of deliberations among the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU), JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA), Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) and University administration. After the meeting of students' representatives and the officials of the MHRD, the ministry, in a statement, said that the fee-related matter of JNU has been sorted out. After the intense agitations by the students of the university last year, the ministry had formed a high-powered committee headed by former UGC chairman V S Chauhan to recommend ways to restore normalcy.
The statement added, “Taking into consideration the spirit of recommendations of the HPC, various meetings were held by Secretary HRD with representatives of students/teachers and JNU administration on 10th and 11th December 2019, certain mutually agreeable agreements were arrived (sic). In pursuance of the same, and after rounds of discussions, the JNU has issued a statement that the students are not being asked to bear the cost of service and utility charges proposed for the winter session which was their basic demand. As agreed in the meeting of 10th and 11th December 2019, the revised hostel room charges, however, will remain applicable with 50% concession for BPL students."
However, the students do not seem to be convinced by the proposed formula of the MHRD. Kaushik Mahto, an MPhil student from the Centre of Community Health and Social Medicine, said, “The students will not pay the increased room rent as it was passed in an illegal Inter Hall Administration meeting where the administration did not bother to listen to our voices." He added that the administration is also lying about the total number of students registered. “When we approached the office of Dean of Students, we were told that only 2,494 out of 7,413 students had registered themselves,” he said.
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Satish Chandra Yadav, General Secretary, JNUSU told NewsClick that the statement by MHRD is contrary to the record of discussions released by it on December 10 and 11. He said, “The record of discussions clearly mentioned that the university will call a new IHA meeting to discuss the new manual. Similarly, it said that the students will be given two weeks' time to fulfill their academic duties. It also said that the administration will take a lenient view of the incidents occurred during the fee hike movement. The JNU administration is violating all these commitments. It started registration without giving time to students to fulfill their academic duties. Thus, I am of the opinion that both, MHRD as well as JNU administration is in a haste to discredit the movement itself."&
Teachers fear for their security, cannot work under VC: JNUTA
The teachers in the university, too, have reiterated their demand of removal of Vice-Chancellor Mamidala Jagadeesh Kumar. The teachers' body, in its dossier, said, “A very important aspect of the mob violence of January 5 was the systematic targeting of teachers, their families, residences and their vehicles. This, in the view of the faculty, specially points a finger at the connivance of the VC and administration led by him in the violence. Teachers in such circumstances do not feel safe on the campus and fear that if the VC continues in office, we might witness, in the days, to come even worse than what was unleashed on January 5."
The body, in its statement, added, “It is not therefore possible for teachers to pretend that things are normal and start regular activities on the directives of a VC and an administration in whom they have absolutely no faith. While teachers are committed to completing both the pending activities of the previous semester as well as those of the current and willing to go the extra mile in effort to that end, restoration of normalcy is an essential precondition and after January 5, this has to include the removal of the VC."
Talking to NewsClick, D K Lobiyal, President, JNUTA, said, “Prior to the violence of January 5, fee hike and administrative failure were the main issues. They still are, but the violence in the campus clearly indicated that VC has failed to protect the campus. In order to make the environment conducive to the teaching learning process, the VC must go."
Administration imprinting narrow-minded world view on students: Amit Bhaduri
Miffed by the administration's failure in protecting the campus on January 5, renowned economist Amit Bhaduri resigned from the post of Professor Emeritus. Bhaduri is currently a professor in Pavia University, Italy. In his resignation letter, Bhaduri said, "I joined the university as a young professor in 1973; with some years’ gap in between, I left it in 2001. During my years at JNU, it passed through various phases of justified or unjustified student unrest; competent or incompetent handling of situations by the administration; and even temporary shut-down of teaching. What is different now is not only incompetence of handling of situations by the authorities, but a deliberate attempt to throttle the free, and lively atmosphere of debate and discussion for which JNU was known all over the country."
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He added, "It seems to me that the current attempt by the administration at destroying that atmosphere of freedom of expression is in line with a larger and more sinister plan of which you as the head of JNU also appear to be a pivotal part. You seem determined on imprinting your administration’s narrow-minded world view, and shut all other windows of ideas to the students. It pains me, but I feel it would be immoral on my part without registering my protest to remain a silent observer in this larger, sinister scheme of throttling dissent which is unfolding now at the University. I am protesting in the only way which I find is open to me. I am giving up my emeritus professorship at JNU."