New Delhi, Nov 19: The Delhi Police lodged two FIRs on Tuesday in connection with the protest by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students over a hostel fee hike, even as the students' union demanded that no administrative or legal action be taken against the protesters.
The issue also resonated in the Lok Sabha with Opposition members describing the alleged police action on the students "suppression of voice" and demanding total rollback of hostel fee hike. Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh said they had a meeting with Joint Secretary of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry G C Hosur on Monday and requested him to ensure that no administrative action is initiated against the students.
"Students have been getting notices through e-mail for these protests. But these protests are for a just cause and no student will pay even a single-rupee fine," she told reporters here.
She claimed that even though the university administration was "not working", every student has got 10 to 11 notices stating that they will be fined. "We will put forth the demand before the high-power committee constituted by the HRD ministry that no police or administrative action be taken against students," the JNUSU president said.
The HRD ministry has called the members of the JNU students' union for a meeting at 10.30 am on Wednesday with the high-power committee constituted by the ministry to look into the issues concerning the university. Also, another meeting of the hostel presidents with the panel has been scheduled in the later half of the Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Delhi Police registered two FIRs in connection with the protest by JNU students over a hostel fee hike, a senior police official said.
JNU moves HC; seeks contempt action against students
On the other hand, the university approached the Delhi High Court seeking contempt action against its students and the Delhi Police for allegedly violating a court order against holding a protest within 100 metres of the varsity's administrative block.
The JNU claimed that the students had grossly violated the August 9, 2017, high court order by holding a protest within 100 metres of the administrative block and affecting its day-to-day working. It said the police also violated the court order by refusing and failing to take action to maintain law and order in the university.
In the Lok Sabha, Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress raised the issue during the Zero Hour, and said the hike should be rolled back as poor students will find it difficult to pay the amount. T N Prathapan of the Congress said the students are protesting for their rights. "The government is undemocratically suppressing their voice against fee hike. The government is ruining higher education institutions," he said.
The JNU students' union also alleged that the registrar of the university refused to meet the members of the HRD Ministry-appointed panel for mediating between the agitating students and the administration and recommending ways to restore the normal functioning of the university.
The JNUSU, which has been leading the agitation against a hostel fee hike for three weeks, said the strike would not be called off until their demands are met. "We got to know that the registrar refused to meet the HRD Ministry-appointed panel to mediate between us and the university. See their high-handedness. When they can refuse to entertain government representatives, how can they be expected to talk to us," Aishe Ghosh posed.
There was no immediate response from the registrar or the university administration on the JNUSU allegation. "The strike will continue till our demands are met and the fee hike is completely rolled back," Ghosh asserted. Terming Monday a "historic day" which witnessed protest by students against the fee hike, she said the "police lathicharge" was "most brutal action" against any protest in the recent past.
"Since Monday morning, police and the ministry were trying to deter us from protesting. The HRD ministry even formed a three-member committee to look into the matter but we were not sent any official notification," Ghosh said. She alleged that upon reaching Ber Sarai during the march, police "manhandled and groped" women protestors while detaining them. Ghosh claimed that even when she was released in the evening, the jeep that escorted them from Delhi Cantonment to Safdarjung Tomb, where their fellow students were sitting in protest, took almost two hours.
"We were made to roam for almost two hours around Bina Market, and were given the excuse that roads are blocked due to traffic but no such thing was there. When I reached near Safdarjung Tomb, police said, 'You are late. How can we take your delegation to the ministry', " she alleged.
Alleging that police did everything to ensure that they were not able to meet ministry officials, the JNUSU president claimed even after their delegation was formed, police separated them. Meanwhile, the JNU Teachers' Association took out a march against "police brutality" in JNU campus while the RSS-affiliated ABVP withdrew its support to the students' union protest over fee hike.
(with PTI inputs)