Members of different political groups, JNU alumni, students and teachers of other institutions took to the streets Saturday in a show of solidarity with the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, who have been protesting against a proposed hostel fee hike for several days. On Saturday, six buses from JNU carrying students and teachers arrived at Mandi House at 11.30 am and began the march to Parliament Street.
Student activists from various organisations — National Students Union of India; Students’ Federation of India; All India Students’ Federation, All India Students’ Association; Krantikari Yuva Sangathan; and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, among others were part of the march. Members of teachers’ associations of JNU and Delhi University were in attendance as well. Also present were students and teachers from other institutions like Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai, AIIMS, IIT Delhi and IGNOU.
“Wage a struggle to study, study to change society,” were among the slogans raised in English, Hindi and Urdu.
Members of the Congress, CPI(M) and RJD were also present. “With the fee hike and New Education Policy, the government is trying to restrict the youth from accessing education. JNU was first started to produce government servants from among the elite, but now people from all parts of the country are here,” said CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and a former JNUSU president. Congress parliamentarian Rajeev Gowda said: “…We are seeing a concerted effort to destroy India’s finest social science university.”
Former JNU student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid were also present. “This is not the first time JNU is in the news. It was there during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, liberalisation and the fall of Babri Masjid. JNU has always taken a stand,” said Kumar.
JNU alumni take to streets
A contingent of mostly middle-aged persons with salt-and-pepper hair, walked behind a banner saying ‘JNU alumni stand with JNU’ and marched to the Parliament Saturday. The marchers, former JNU students and students’ union leaders of their time, too, poured on to the streets to support students of their alma mater, who were leading the march against the hostel fee hike. Historian Sohail Hashmi, who was among those leading the march, said, “Many wouldn’t have been able to afford higher education otherwise, but JNU allowed us to develop our potential… JNU is being attacked because it raises questions.” Dancer and theatre person Maya Rao said: “There is an emergency situation at JNU right now…”