Hours after a meeting with officials and members-elect of the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) over the hostel fee hike, the HRD Ministry on Friday said the administration had addressed the basic demands of the students and requested them to end their three-month-long agitation.
Higher Education secretary Amit Khare, who met a JNU students’ delegation, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, said, “We have addressed their basic demand regarding hostel fee hike (rollback of service and utility charges). Students have been requested to withdraw their agitation and start attending classes.”
The students have, however, demanded a complete rollback of the revised hostel fee hike. Students at JNU have been protesting since October 28 against the hike in hostel fee, especially the service charges for maintenance, mess workers, cook and sanitation and utility charges for power and water consumption.
While the JNU administration is now only charging the increased room rent for the new semester, protesting students want a written assurance that the proposed utility and service charges will not be introduced in the future. The administration hasn’t done so.
Following her meeting with HRD officials, Aishe Ghosh said the JNUSU was steadfast on its demand regarding the removal of Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar but any decision on whether to call off the agitation against the fee hike would be taken later.
“Our demand for JNU VC’s resignation stands. We will call a meeting with counsellors and office bearers and take a call on whether to call off the agitation or not. We have put forward our points, waiting for HRD Ministry’s decision to take a final call,” she said.
Under the new hostel charges, students have to pay a service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. This charge did not exist earlier. Rent for a single room has been 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. Till date, 3300 students have registered for the new semester and agreed to pay the increased room rent. JNU has roughly 7,500 students.
On Sunday, even as a section of students continued to boycott registration for the new semester (with increased room rent), a masked mob wielding rods and sledgehammers entered hostels and attacked students and teachers, leaving 36 injured. The JNU administration has linked the violence to the fee hike protests in their public statement and their report to the HRD Ministry.
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