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Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have been protesting for three weeks against the draft hostel manual, which has provisions for the hostel fee hike, dress code, and curfew timings.

What all happened so far:

On November 18 the JNU students started a march towards the Parliament. With posters in hand, they chanted anti-fee hike slogans as they demanded a complete rollback of the hostel fee hike. Many students were detained and hundreds were stopped by the police near the campus.

The police said ten companies were been deployed outside JNU. One company comprises 70 to 80 personnel. The protesting students broke barricades, even as a heavy contingent of police personnel was deployed outside the campus to monitor the situation.

The protesting students seemed uncontrollable and were brutally beaten up by the police. Many students shared the brutality on social media.

Authorities had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Code of Procedure, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, around Parliament area.

The police, however, have denied lathicharging, using tear gas or any form of violence against students. The police have also registered an FIR against the JNU students at Kishan Garh Police Station under Sections 186 (obstructing a public servant in the discharge of public functions) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from the discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code.

The JNU administration decided on November 20 to partially roll back the hostel fee hike “only for the students below the poverty line category” and removed the provisions for curfew timing and dress code from the draft.

However, no changes were made in the hostel fee structure for BPL students who availed scholarships and for non-BPL students. These decisions were taken at the university’s Executive Council meet (EC). After the meet, the EC had decided to do away with some clauses in the ‘draft hostel manual’.

Provisions suggested in the manual by EC:

Hostel room rent –The rent for a single-seater room has been increased from Rs 20 to Rs 600 per month and the rent for the double-seater room has been increased from Rs 10 to Rs 300 per month.

Hostel timing- The residents should return to their respective hostels by 11 PM or by half an hour after time toward library closing. The draft hostel manual said, “Students who are found outside their respective hostel premises after the specified time and involving in any violence or otherwise disturbing the peace on campus and privacy of JNU community will be evicted from hostel forthwith apart from any other disciplinary action by the University.”

Dress Code- “All residents and guests should come properly dressed in the dining hall”, the new manual said.

Service charges- Service charges of Rs 1,700 were introduced and the refundable one-time mess security fee was increased from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000.

The JNU administration cited a reason for the fee hike that the fee has not been revised over the past 19 years.

While the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) cited annual reports from the university to suggest that over 40% of students come from lower-income groups and were in no state to afford the hike.

The assistant registrar of Inter-Hall Administration on November 20 released the details of pending dues from the hostel residents. The cost amounted to over Rs 2.79 crore. Over Rs 44 lakh is pending from July, dues of August stand at Rs 55 lakh and September and October dues amount to Rs 73,71,808 and Rs 1,13,95,634 respectively.

The dean of the students Umesh Kadam on circular issued said, “The hostel mess is run on a no-profit, no-loss basis. How are we supposed to run them when we have close to Rs three crore pending dues?”

The JNUSU vice-president Saket Moon claimed that this is an attempt to threaten students.

A group of JNU students met a panel of HRD ministry officials on November 20 and informed the officials about the brutal lathicharge by the Delhi police. They also spoke about the Vice-Chancellor of the university being inaccessible and insensitive to their needs.

The protestors are in no mood to rest even after facing inhuman brutality from the Delhi police. The students will lead a march on November 23 from Mandi House to Parliament from 11 AM onwards.

Way forward: Now the question is will the JNU administration listen to the demands of the students, remove the provisions made in the new draft hostel manual or will the students accept the new provisions and end their protest.



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