HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Monday said the sticky issue regarding hostel fee hike had been sorted and asked the protesting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University to call off their agitation. Nishank’s statement comes three days after Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said the varsity had addressed the students’ “basic demand”.
The HRD Minister said the High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted by the ministry met the agitating students in December last year and agreed that the service and utility charges would be borne by the University Grants Commission. However, the revised hostel room charges would be borne by the students, with 50 per cent concession for the BPL students.
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“The Ministry, as well as the Union HRD Minister, have time and again appealed to the students to call off their agitation since their key demand has been met. HRD Minister has said the main demand related to the increase in service and utility charges and other related issues have now been settled and continuation of agitation by students in no longer justified,” the statement read.
The ministry further appealed that the institutions of higher education should not be converted into a political arena. The statement further said about 5,000 students have already registered for the new semester. Roughly 7,500 students are studying in JNU.
The statement comes days after a masked mob attacked students and teachers inside the JNU campus, leading to massive outrage across the country. The assaulted students belonged to the JNU Student Union (JNUSU) who were protesting against the fee hike.
In October last year, the JNU administration had decided to raise the fee, giving the rationale that it hadn’t been revised for 19 years. Under the new hostel charges, students were to pay a service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. Rent for a single room was increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month.
The JNUSU has cited the university’s annual reports to suggest that more than 40 per cent of JNU students come from lower-income groups and would not be able to afford the hike.