JNU students call off hunger strike after HC stays punishment

JNU students call off hunger strike after HC stays punishment

JNU students call off hunger strike after HC stays punishment

JNU students who have been on an indefinite hunger strike since 16 days, today called off their fast after Delhi High Court ordered a conditional stay on punishments by the university in connection with the controversial February 9 event.

"Following the court order, we have decided to call off the strike but our fight will continue till the Vice Chancellor revokes the punishments.

"We have raised our demands with the administration and wanted to negotiate with them but we were forced to go to the court as the university authorities did not pay any heed to our petitions," JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said.

JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in February in a sedition case over the event during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

The university had announced punishments ranging from rustication to financial penalty based on probe by a five-member committee and the students had gone on hunger strike in protest against the punitive action.

Alleging that the administration was "unfazed" by their demands and deteriorating health conditions, few students including Kanhaiya moved Delhi High Court challenging the action.

The High Court issued directions to JNUSU to immediately withdraw its hunger strike and not to indulge in any further agitation and put the decision on hold till the appeals of the students are decided by the appellate authority.

The court in its order also said if the appeals of the students were rejected, then the order of appellate authority would not be given effect to till a period of two weeks.

The varsity had earlier this week formed a four-member committee to look into demands of agitating students, however, with the students moving court the administration had appealed the students to call off the strike and wait for the law to take its course.

When the students still refused to call off the fast, the varsity authorities had also sent out letters to the parents of striking students asking them to instruct their wards to end the hunger strike and resort to "constitutional" means to put forward their demands.

While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000, Umar, Anirban and a Kashmiri student, Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varying durations.

Financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students. Hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and the university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.

Saurabh Sharma, who is the lone ABVP member in JNU Students Union and was also the complainant of the February 9 event, has been slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 for blocking traffic.

Though, he has not approached the court, he had gone on hunger strike but called it off after 5 days claiming he has been assured by the VC that his demands will be considered.

Meanwhile, parents of Umar Khalid and former JNUSU General Secretary Chintu Kumari who has been slapped with a fine of Rs 20,000, were in JNU today to express their solidarity with the agitating students.