JNU Partially Rolls Back Fee Hike, Pitches Scheme for EWS Students

The Quint spoke to students of JNU to understand the objective behind the protest and learn of their frustration.

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Following widespread protests, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Executive Committee announced a partial rollback of hostel fees hike, decision taken in varsity's Executive Council meeting.

It also proposed a scheme for economic assistance to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) students, reported PTI.

The room rent for single occupancy will be Rs 200 while for double, it will be Rs 100. The caution deposit will be Rs 5,500, as per revised structure. The service charges will continue to be fined at Rs 1,700.

Earlier, the fee was hiked from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month for single, and Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month for double sharing hostel residence, the newspaper reported.

Massive Protests Ahead of Roll Back

Earlier on 11 November, thousands of JNU students clashed with police outside the campus as they raised their voices against the administration's "anti-student" policy.

The students wanted to march to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) auditorium, about three kilometres away from the campus in south Delhi, where Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the university's convocation. But they were stopped a short distance away.

What We Know About the Students-Police Clash

On 11 November, were placed outside the north and west gates of the JNU campus as well as on the route between the AICTE auditorium and the JNU at Baba Balaknath Marg, near the traffic signal, underneath the flyover and near the venue, an officer said.

Students, however, broke these blockades and marched towards the venue around 11.30 am, PTI reported.

The students allegedly raised slogans such as "Delhi Police Go Back" and called Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar Mamidala a "thief", reported PTI.

Students claimed police used force against them and several among them sustained injuries. However, a senior police officer said there were orders from seniors to not use force and the on-ground personnel were not even carrying their weapons.

"We were not even carrying lathis. Mild force had to be used to quell the protesters but students were not lathicharged.” he said.

Water cannons were used to disperse the protestors and police said some of the students were detained. Top brass of Delhi Police were at the site to handle the situation.

HRD Minister Stuck Inside Auditorium For Over 6 Hours

Union Human Resource Development Minister Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ was stuck inside the AICTE auditorium for over six hours as protests by JNU students escalated, forcing him to cancel two events later in the day.

'Nishank', along with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, had gone to All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to attend the Jawaharlal Nehru University's third convocation. While Naidu left the premises before the protest escalated, Nishank had to stay inside.

After Pokhriyal met JNUSU leaders and assured them that their demands would be looked into, he left the AICTE premises around 4.15 pm.

Why Were The Students Protesting?

For more than 10 days now, JNU students have been protesting the new draft hostel manual, which was approved by the Inter Hostel Management (IHA) committee on 4 November. The JNU Students’ Union alleges the new manual has regressive provisions for curfew timings, dress code and fee hikes.

The university had said the hostel fee has been hiked to provide better facilities to students, dismissing the claim that the hostel manual imposes curfew timings or dress code on students.

‘Regressive Manual, Arbitarily Passed’

The Quint spoke to students of JNU to understand the objective behind the protest and learn about their frustrations with the administration.

“A very regressive hostel manual has been arbitrarily passed by the administration,” Apeksha Priyadarshani, a student, explained how the hostel manual has been given clearance without the students or hostel presidents being consulted.

JNUSU’ former president Sai Balaji shed light on the impact of the hostel fee hike on the families drawing a monthly salary less than Rs 12,000.

“Actually, the draft, despite it being rejected by the students, says that the students are expected to pay for services provided in the mess, especially hostel, by sanitation workers, and hostel staff. The hostel hike will be around 300-1000 percent. That comes down to paying Rs 30,000-60,000 more than what they are paying right now annually. This will directly affect more than 40 percent of the students on the campus who come from families where the monthly salary is less than Rs 12,000.”
Sai Balaji, Former President, JNUSU   

Balaji also raised questions on the the proposed dress code in the campus. “Why should there be such a rule where the university is telling the students what to wear?”

“The draft manual also says that there will be a dress code and you have to wear that in the campus. We know that the administration harasses students for not following rules which don’t even exist. And why should there be such a rule where the university is telling is students what to wear? Along with this, they are closing the libraries and there is a curfew now till 11 pm. If the students are coming later than the curfew time, they will have to take permission from the warden. If you are not in hostel, for that too, you have to ask for permission. If it’s not done, your degree will not be given and the student will be rusticated.”
Sai Balaji, Former President, JNUSU   

Balaji further alleges that the administration ‘called CRPF on campus’.

Priyadarshani too said that students are open to any kind of dialogue as long as student representatives from JNUSU and students unions are invited to partake in the same.

Overwhelming Support From Over 150 Institutes for Battle Against Hostel Fee Hike: JNUSU

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU), on Thursday, 14 November, in a statement said, “the ongoing struggle to safeguard public education has received overwhelming support and solidarity" from over 2,000 members of the academic community, currently placed in more than 150 universities and institutes around the world.

"Members of the academic community from Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and Australia have extended their solidarity to JNUSU and the entire JNU students community," it said, adding that its battle against the hostel manual will continue.

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