JNU protest: Dialogue cannot be initiated through coercion
New Delhi, Nov 16: JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar urged the varsity's agitating students to call off their protests, saying dialogue cannot be dictated through "coercion and illegal methods".
The JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) said instead of initiating a dialogue, the administration has begun to issue "thinly veiled threats" to the teachers and students.
In the evening, the students' union burnt the circular issued by the administration announcing the "partial rollback" of the hostel fee hike.
Students from marginalised sections shared stories of how the rollback would also fail to solve their problems at the gathering. The students are still occupying the administration block popularly known as the pink palace.
The vice-chancellor requested the Jawaharlal Nehru University's teachers to appeal to the disgruntled students to end their agitation that is hampering "studies of thousands of students on the campus" who are preparing for their end-semester examinations.
"JNU administration would always like to engage in a dialogue and discussion, but the process and form of any such interaction cannot be dictated through coercion and illegal methods. No dialogue in this form will be fruitful," he said.
The university administration, after facing two weeks of protests, rolled back the hostel fee hike partially for Below Poverty Line (BPL) students not availing any scholarship. Students have dubbed the move an "eyewash".
The VC requested the teachers to make an extra effort to convince the students that the changes in hostel charges are not only "reasonable but vital for the financial viability of our hostels".
"It is our duty and responsibility to keep JNU on the path of becoming a globally renowned university for which peace and normalcy have to be restored in the campus. I hope you will do your best in our mission of making JNU an island of learning and enviable recognition," he said.
The persistent agitations and protests by a section of students have adversely affected the university's normal academic and research activities, Kumar said.
He appealed for restoring "peace" and "normalcy" on the campus and alleged the "an atmosphere of confusion and misinformation was created over changes in the Inter Hall Administration Manual".
Despite concessions given by the Executive Council, students on strike have continued to press their demand for complete withdrawal of the Hostel Manual, he said.
Kumar also alleged that some students have turned "violent causing intimidation and physical insecurity to some JNU teachers and officials in the campus".
"Such persistent protests involving occupation of the Administration Building,
defacing of walls and floors and indulging in brawls with security guards and breaking open doors have maligned the image of JNU seriously," he said.
He accused the agitating students of repeatedly breaking laws, violating court orders, surrounding the houses of faculty members, harassing and tormenting them and their family members, including children.
Referring to the protests outside the convocation venue on Monday, Kumar said the agitating students have crossed every line of civil behaviour and said they confined Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and Chancellor VK Saraswat inside the venue for over six hours.
He said the "vandalism" of administration block is going to cost lakhs of rupees in repair.
"No civilised society, let alone a higher academic institution of the stature of JNU, would bear such abominable activities and behaviour by its members.
"The administration has taken an extremely grim view of this condemnable and reprehensible behaviour of the agitating students and their mentors," Kumar said.
JNUSU vice-president Saket Moon called the appeal a tactic of the administration to coerce the JNU community into backing down from their movement.
"The 'major rollback' brought by the JNU administration and the HRD ministry is nothing more than an eyewash, as no demands of the students have been accepted, and instead of initiating a dialogue, the administration has begun to release thinly veiled threats to the teachers and students," he said.
"The JNUSU reiterates that it shall carry the struggle forward while building larger solidarities within and beyond the university," Moon added.