Around 100 JNU students, including students union president Aishe Ghosh, were detained and some were injured when police allegedly baton-charged protestors as they marched towards Parliament on the first day of Winter Session on Monday demanding a total rollback of the hostel fee hike.
The protesting students sat at Safdurjung Tomb, demanding release of those detained and a meeting with officials of the ministry. The top brass of Delhi police tried to initiate a dialogue with them and urged them to not take law into their hands.
Traffic was affected in some parts of Lutyens’ Delhi as the students marched towards Parliament. Among other intersections, vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace on Nelson Mandela Marg, Aurobindo Marg and Baba Gang Nath Marg.
The entry and exit points of three Delhi Metro stations near Parliament were shut down temporarily and trains did not halt at Udyog Bhawan and Patel Chowk. The services resumed four hours later.
Students took to Twitter to share pictures of the march and of injuries they received allegedly in a lathicharge by police, as the hashtag “emergencyinJNU” trended on the microblogging site.
Top police officials were on their toes as they controlled the crowd that was chanting slogans against the force.
The students, who were holding a protest on the university’s premises for the past three weeks, hit the streets carrying placards, seeking to get the attention of Parliament about their demand.
The protesters asserted that they would not relent until the government withdrew the hike.
“The HRD Ministry must announce the withdrawal of both illegal draft IHA manual and the illegal Executive Council decisions about its adoption are held in abeyance. The JNUSU, which is the elected representatives of the students, and the JNUTA must be treated as stakeholders. An explicit assurance must be given that any decision on the manual will be taken as per proper and established process,” a protester said.
JNUSU vice president Saket Moon said, “The police is telling us they will take a delegation to meet HRD officials. We will decide on sending a delegation only after our fellows detained at unknown locations are released. We want representation in the HRD panel.”
Hundreds of police personnel stopped the students at the Baba Ganganath Marg, around 600 metres from the main gate of the university in south Delhi, and some of them were forcefully stopped from moving ahead.
Initially, the barricades outside the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s gates were removed and the students were allowed to march. The students managed to march till Safdarjung Tomb near Lodhi Road, where they were stopped again as the Delhi police officials tried to strike a dialogue with them.
Police officers asked the protestors to sit in one lane on Safdurjung road and clear the rest of the passage for vehicles.
Special Commissioner of Police, Law and Order (South), RS Krishnia urged protestors to clear the roads. “We have been requesting you since morning, please start leaving towards the university. The routes of ambulances for Safdarjung Hospital are being impacted,” he said.
Aishe Gosh said they took out a peaceful march from JNU. “The police thought they would detain two office bearers and the movement would end, but every student is a leader. We are all fighting together. The Delhi Police is upset. Till the time there is not a complete rollback of the hike and of the IHA manual, we will continue our agitation.”
She also asked why male police personnel were detaining women students.
JNUSU secretary Satish Chandra Yadav said the university vice chancellor must resign and said they will raise this demanded with the HRD Ministry.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Human Resource Development appointed a three-member committee to recommend ways to restore normal functioning of the JNU which has been witnessing periodic protests by students over a variety of issues.
While the committee will initiate dialogue with the students and varsity administration immediately and submit recommendations on actions to be taken, the UGC will provide required support for functioning of the committee, the HRD secretary said.
Akshat, a JNU student said, “The students’ union has not been informed by the ministry about the formation of a panel. The administration’s officials and the panel should speak to the elected union to solve the issue.”
“We are being given a lollipop in terms of partial rollback. I’m the first one in my family to study in a university. There are many others like me. Education is not the birthright of a privileged few,” Priyanka, another student, said.
Students took out the march carrying banners that read “save public education”, “fees must fall” and “ensure affordable hostels for all”.
Another student, who did not wish to be named, said, “We haven’t seen our VC (vice-chancellor) in a long time. It’s time that he comes out and talks to us. Instead of appealing to us through teachers and other methods, he should initiate a dialogue with us.”
The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) has expressed their concern over the current situation in the university campus.