Hundreds Of Students Hit Streets After JNU Administration Proposes 300% Fee Hike, Clash With Police
Slogans, placards synced with the tune of thumping dhaplis were once again heard in Jawaharlal Nehru University on November 11, when hundreds of students thronged the streets against the proposal to increase hostel fees by 300 per cent.
The agitated students clashed with the police outside the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) premises. To bring the situation under control, the police resorted to the use of water cannons and also detained a few students.
Hike In Various Charges
A draft of a hostel manual which circulated on October 4 has snowballed into the massive protest. The students were shocked to find the college administration has hiked their hostel fees multifold. The hostel mess security deposit had been increased to Rs 12,000 from Rs 5,500.
Apart from this, the authorities have also proposed to increase hostel fees from Rs 20 to Rs 600 for a single room, and from Rs 10 to Rs 300 for a shared room. If the draft is passed, then the students will also have to pay for Rs 1,700 for maintenance services.
While the JNU administration’s rationale for the hike is that the fee hasn’t been revised for 19 years, the students have alleged that such an important decision was taken without consulting them. They also alleged that the Vice-Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar has rejected to address students’ concern.
Voice Of The Students
“It is uncanny how members of student union were made sure they are not the part of Inter-Hall Administration (IHA) meeting,” said Adrish Sekhar, an M.Phil student while speaking to The Logical Indian. Presidents of the 18 hostels were summoned at the last minute without any prior notice.
“Only three to four presidents managed to reach for the meeting, and even their voices were not heard. While this is still a proposal on paper, it can be seen that there is a 300 per cent rise in the fees, salary for the cook, cleaning staff, electricity and WiFi bill will be now paid by the students,” Adrish remarked.
The students’ union also had the support of other parties like BAPSA, Kshatra RJD and Congress-backed NSUI.
N Sai Balaji, former president of the student union told that a lot of students from financially weaker section come to study in JNU. “At least 40 per cent of the students on the campus are from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. The university is raising fees without even considering how these students will pay,” added Balaji.
He said that now the students will pay somewhere around Rs 60,000 per year as against Rs 30,000 – the amount that the administration is listing.
“We won’t study if they don’t want us to, but we will not entertain the fee hike,” Balaji claimed. Apart from fee hike, dress code and the imposition of curfew has further exasperated the students.
“In research dominated university, how can they ask us to get inside our rooms by 11:30 pm? Students lose count on time while doing research. How can they ask us to be in our room without completing our studies?” questioned Apeksha, a PhD student.
Hostel rooms in this university are allocated first to the reserved category (marginalised). However, the university is also mulling to let it go. Resonating the above concerns, Adrish said that the administration has also informed us that student away from their rooms for three consecutive days, might lose their rooms.
In the wake of ongoing protest, multiple barricades and roadblocks were placed on the route to AICTE on Monday when Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Union Human Resource Development Minister – Ramesh Pokhriyal had come to attend JNU’s third convocation. At least 600 police personnel were deployed to tackle the protests.
The students marched towards AICTE in the morning. At around 11:30 they broke barricade and cavalcaded towards the venue. The cops at around 3:30 pm resorted to the use of water cannons to disperse the crowd. While the Vice President left the venue after attending the convocation, the HRD minister was stuck inside the hall for over six hours. The All India Student Association (AISA) is said to observe National Protest Day in support of JNU students on 14 November.