JNU a premier university, should be maintained that way: HRD Ministry tells V-C

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JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Taking strict note of the January 5 violence inside the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the HRD ministry Wednesday directed Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar that JNU is a premier university and it should be maintained that way.

At least 35 students and teachers, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, were brutally beaten by an armed masked mob on the evening of January 5.

Officials from HRD Ministry met the V-C to take stock of efforts being made by the varsity administration to restore normalcy on the campus. The officials told Kumar to be more communicative with the students and take faculty into confidence.

"Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare and G C Hosur had a meeting with JNU V-C at the Ministry today about the efforts being made to restore normalcy on campus. He informed the officials about efforts being made for facilitating semester registration for willing students and a conducive environment for their academic pursuits," PTI quoted a senior ministry official as saying.

Kumar told the officials that efforts were being made to facilitate semester registration for "willing" students.

The JNU V-C faced widespread criticism and there were calls for his immediate sacking for suggesting the January 5 violence in the campus was linked to hostel fee hike protests backed by Left-led JNU Students’ Union. Most of those injured, including students and teachers, had said the ABVP was behind the violence — a charge the outfit denies.

Following the incident, Kumar had given his statement on Twitter, “The origin of the present situation in JNU lies in some agitating students turning violent and obstructing the academic activities of a large number of non-protesting students. The protesting students damaged the University communication servers to disrupt the winter semester registration. They prevented thousands of students from doing their winter registration. Their intent is clearly aimed at disrupting the functioning of the University. This is simply hooliganism and against the ethos of JNU. No such person will be spared and appropriate action will be taken.” The JNUSU has been protesting against hostel fee hike on campus.

He had also said the University should not be held to ransom by some agitators who have no respect for the fundamental rights of law-abiding students.

The V-C had also skipped the meeting called by the HRD ministry on Monday over the violence that took place on the JNU campus. On Tuesday, he had urged to put the past behind and make sure that normalcy returns to the University.

"Our heart goes out to all the injured students. The incident (violence) is unfortunate. I would like to tell students that the JNU campus is a secure place. I urge all students to come back to the campus. Let us put the past behind," the vice-chancellor had said.

Speaking about the January 5 incident, he had said if there were a law and order situation, they do not rush to the police immediately.

The Sunday incident had sparked protests across the country, with many educational institutions and influential celebrities condemning the violence against students.

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank,' who was in Bhubhaneshwar a day after the incident, said educational institutions cannot be allowed to become "political adda". He vowed "strong action" against the perpetrators of the violence at JNU.

(With PTI inputs)