The meeting of JNU’s Academic Council (AC) Tuesday — the first one held after the February 9 incident — was marked by arguments between the administration, teachers and students over the punishment meted out to the students allegedly involved in the incident.
While JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar alleged that some students had tried to “pull his shirt and pin him down”, students and teachers said these were “baseless allegations” and he had left the meeting “abruptly and unreasonably”.
After the V-C left, a majority of AC members stated in a resolution, “The overwhelming sense expressed in the academic council meeting was that the whole range of punishments meted out to students is excessive and the harsher punishments… should be immediately revoked.”
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“We are distressed by the fact that no deference was shown by the chair to opinions expressed by AC members, and the chair adjourned the meeting abruptly and unreasonably. We resolve that all unreasonable punishments arising from the February 9 incident are revoked. We resolve that the V-C immediately implement this resolution,” it added.
The JNU V-C, however, said at the meeting, “a group of teachers and their student supporters” were pressing their demand to “discuss an issue that was not part of the agenda”. “The behaviour of these teachers was unruly… there was no alternative left for the Vice-Chancellor but to adjourn the meeting,” the university said in a statement.
“When the Vice-Chancellor proceeded towards his office from the venue, some students attempted to surround him by forming a human chain. Some students literally pulled his shirt and tried to pin him down. We appeal to the JNU community to use peaceful means to resolve the issue… ,” it added.
However, JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was present at the meeting, said the V-C had not been manhandled, “… The V-C has been videographed being escorted by a dozen security guards, while students peacefully sang songs and raised slogans,” he said.
The confrontation between the JNU V-C, and the students and teachers, began when Kumar said he wanted to start the meeting with an item which was on the agenda. But student union representatives and some teachers demanded that the punishment awarded to students, on the basis of a report by a High-Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC), be discussed first.
JNUSU secretary Rama Naga, one of the students on hunger strike, presented some fruits and flowers to Kumar. “We have been on an hunger strike for 13 days but the V-C did not come to meet us even once. We may not be able to eat, but at least you can eat this,” he said.
Professor Jayati Ghosh, who was present at the meeting, said, “The V-C kept saying the AC should trust the newly-formed committee, to which someone said the administration was no longer in a position to command trust. He then said the meeting was adjourned and left.”