An early morning raid – the authorities call it a check – in JNU’s hostel rooms has riled its students, with many maintaining that attempts are being made to malign the university’s scholars, especially its women. Students alleged that a group of security personnel led by a lecturer entered the rooms of women and men students.
“Many girls found in boys’ rooms,” a newspaper headline screamed. The students claimed 20-25 security guards led by JNU academic Buddha Singh entered the rooms, including those in the women’s hostels, on October 5.
“The wardens of various hostels came for raids after 5 am. JNU being a residential campus has always maintained its character and built an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. But this raid was just the opposite. The wardens didn’t even knock,” said former JNUSU general secretary Satarupa Chakraborty.
Chakraborty also alleged that the raiding team entered the women’s rooms when many students were sleeping. Cupboards were opened and spot fines imposed on students found to be breaking hostel rules.
Neither Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar nor Registrar Pramod Kumar commented on the issue when contacted by PTI. Singh confirmed that the checks had taken place, but refused to elaborate further. The students believed the outcry in a section of the media that followed was part of an exercise that started last year.
“Efforts are on to incite hatred against JNU,” JNUSU general secretary Duggirala Srikrishna said, pointing out that last year there were stories about 3,000 used condoms being found in JNU every day. The RSS-BJP regime… has tried to malign JNU through fake stories of condoms, calling women students prostitutes as part of a #ShutDownJNU campaign,” he said.
According to the JNU hostel manual, only men can stay in the men’s hostels and women in the women’s wings. They are required to return to their respective hostels by 11 pm. While the manual prohibits men from entering women’s hostels, it only says that women are not allowed into the dining hall of the men’s hostels.
Wardens from time to time check the ids of room occupants to see if there are unauthorised guests. A students’ group called the Collective condemned the raid. “While the issue of building more hostels on campus remains unresolved, students are being harassed and hostel rooms raided instead,” it said on a social media site.
Residents of Periyar hostel passed a resolution demanding an explanation from the authorities on how the media was informed about the raid, while the hostel’s elected representatives were kept in the dark.
The recent raid has earned the ire of the RSS-affiliated ABVP too. The students’ group condemned the administration for the “highhandedness and moral policing” in the name of hostel checks and the subsequent media reports which it felt “covered the entire incident in a misogynistic and ludicrous manner”.
JNU Teachers’ Association president Ayesha Kidwai said the attacks were “nothing short of social terrorism”.
Students said they were being targeted by a section of right-wing forces. Last year, when JNU was caught in a prolonged student protest, Haryana BJP leader Jawahar Yadav in a tweet drew a comparison between its students and sex workers.
“For the girls who are protesting in JNU, I only have one thing to say that prostitutes who sell their body are better than them because they at least don’t sell their country,” he tweeted.
Days after that, BJP MLA Gyandev Ahuja said 3,000 used condoms were found every day in JNU, and “girls and boys dance naked” at cultural shows. In April last year, some JNU teachers came up with a dossier alleging sex rackets on the campus.