Minutes before the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) was about to hold a protest over the administration installing an iron grill outside its building, the university authorities Monday covered the staircase leading up to the administrative block with potted plants.
The JNUSU, however, went ahead with the protest and rearranged the plants to spell out ‘Najeeb’. The students also protested against the “lenient punishment” meted out to the four ABVP activists who allegedly assaulted missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad.
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Asked why the plants have been placed on the stairs, M Jagadesh Kumar, vice-chancellor, JNU, told The Indian Express, “The JNU administration has repeatedly requested the JNUSU to conduct their dharnas, sit-ins, debates and public lectures at lawfully allotted spaces on the campus. The protests outside the administrative block causes hindrance to the regular functioning of the administration. Students can hold protests at places near the Kamal complex and the JNUSU office. Some misguided elements are deliberately trying to malign JNU’s image by indulging in activities that violate university rules. That is unwarranted.”
The administrative block has been the nerve centre of student protests. In the aftermath of the February 9 event, the venue had been termed ‘Freedom Square’ by some students.
JNUSU president Mohit Pandey said, “The V-C has started reducing our spaces of protest. No committee passed directions to beautify or install a grill at the administrative block… The V-C put plants everywhere. People say we should negotiate with the V-C, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.”