“Those who would destroy India must first destroy JNU―warts and all,” JNU alumnae and faculty at Cambridge University Priyamvada Gopal said on Twitter last week, as outrage began to build over the Delhi Police’s use of water cannons on students protesting against a fee hike.
The sentiment seems to echo among the university’s students, who have been vociferously opposing the fee hike proposed in the draft hostel manual by the varsity administration.
On Monday, the first day of the Winter Session, the students marched towards the Parliament, defying prohibitory orders and barricades put up by the Delhi Police. The police seem to be so unsure of their ability to contain any protests that they have blocked most roads around the campus, causing traffic snarls.
The current protests, which have been continuing for nearly three weeks, have consistently occupied headlines, after students began tweeting out photos of the presence of the CRPF ahead of a students’ march. Former students joined in to support the struggle, with many sharing personal stories of how the fee hike would have prevented them from continuing their studies.
Since 2014, protests have become commonplace at several publicly funded universities — Hyderabad University, Pondicherry University, Jadavpur University, Panjab University — where various incidents have led to student groups clashing with varsity administration.
But it’s JNU that has been the attention-grabber, thanks to the all-out efforts by the BJP government to paint it as “anti-national” since the sedition row in 2016.
Post the appointment of Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, a former IIT professor, as vice-chancellor in January 2016, the JNU administration has put in place many restrictions and changes that have not gone down well on the famously progressive, outspoken campus.
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