JNU protest unjustified: HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal

JNU protest unjustified: HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal. (Credit: PTI)

HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' on Monday night said the continuation of agitation by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students is "not justified" as the fee-related matter of has been "sorted out" even as eminent economist Amit Bhaduri resigned as 'Professor Emeritus' in protest against the “sinister scheme of throttling dissent” in the varsity.

While students countered Nishank's statement as "one-sided and biased" statement, Bhaduri shot off a letter to Vice-Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar saying it pains him but he feels it would be "immoral on my part without registering my protest to remain a silent observer in this larger, sinister scheme of throttling dissent which is unfolding now at the University".

He accused Kumar of presiding over "steady deterioration" of JNU paving the way for "intellectual disintegration".

The Ministry of Human Resources said in a statement that a High Powered Committee (HPC) was appointed to restore normal functioning of JNU through dialogue and to advise the university administration for resolution of contentious issues.

"The JNU has issued a statement that the students are not being asked to bear the cost of service and utility charges proposed for the winter session which was their basic demand. As agreed in the meeting of 10 and 11 December 2019, the revised hostel room charges, however, will remain applicable with 50% concession for BPL students. Therefore, the JNU fee hike issue stands resolved since this was the main demand of the students," it said.

"The fee-related matter of JNU has been sorted out, the continuation of agitation by students not justified," the statement quoted Nishank as saying.

Reacting to the statement, the JNU Students Union (JNUSU said the university administration has stated that utility and service charges are "not being charged during the current registration for 2020 winter semester" and such wording makes it seem that these charges will be added later in the semester or in the next semester, rather than being revoked.

"There is such a huge trust deficit between the students and this VC that this sort of phrasing is suspicious, at best, to us. A clear notification should be put out stating these charges are being dropped in toto. We have zero faith in this VC and this administration," the JNUSU said in tweets.

It said their "unequivocal" demand has always been a complete rollback of the hostel manual which was passed in an illegal meeting, where student representatives were not called, in violation of JNU statutes.

"The way the HRD Minister is portraying the issue is one-sided and biased. We are not against the registration of students but what we demanded is registration with the old fees," JNU SFI Secretary Akshat said.

He said the JNU administration has linked the registration process with tuition fees as well as hostel fees. "So one could complete the process only after paying the hostel fee at the new rates. The intent is that the University administration does not want us to register. It is not students but the administration which is blocking the registration process. They will have to fulfil their part," he said.

Separately, the JNUSU took on Vice-Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar for retaining his quarters in both JNU and IIT where he taught before becoming the head of the varsity, for "nominal rent contrasts with the steep hostel fee hike his administration has imposed on students".

"Kumar has to pay a nominal monthly rent of Rs 1,200 for his unethically retained IIT residence. However, the market rate for these houses is about Rs 90,000. Why is the VC allowed to waste taxpayers' money? Kumar’s retention of his IIT quarters for a nominal rent contrasts with the steep hostel fee hike his administration has imposed at JNU, belying its reputation for affirmative action in favour of students from disadvantaged families," the JNUSU tweeted.

"The VC's retention of his IIT residence has inflated the institute's HRA expenses, funded by the taxpayers. There are about 300 residences for 500 faculty in IIT, and in order to accommodate the rest, the institute has had to rent houses in Hauz Khas area, thereby spending lakhs," it added.

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