By Rohan Agarwal
New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ will hold a meeting with protesting JNU students within a week to discuss a solution to the faceoff between the varsity students and the administration, JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said on Friday.
Ghosh told IANS that the assurance from top HRD Ministry officials came after a massive protest by agitating JNU students outside the Ministry’s office at the Shastri Bhawan, a stone’s throw from the Parliament.
She said that they were assured by HRD Secretary R. Subrahmanyam and Joint Secretary G.C. Hosur that “the Minister will meet us within a week so we can convey our concerns to him”.
However, the JNUSU chief maintained that their protests will not be called off “at any cost” until the varsity administration announces a complete roll back of proposed fee hike and reconvenes the meeting of the Inter-Hall Administration Committee – where the fee hike was proposed.
The JNU students had reached the Ministry to demand that the recommendations of the ‘High-Power Committee’, set up to resolve the issue, be made public, alleging that the Ministry and the JNU administration are “hiding” the recommendations which are in the students’ favour.
The committee, headed by University Grants Commission’s former chief V.C. Chauhan and comprising UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain and NICTE member Anil Sahasrabudhe, was set to hold talks with the protesting students, who had accused the administration of avoiding a dialogue over the proposed hostel fee hike.
It came after failure of several attempts to pacify the agitating students. During one such protest, the HRD Minister and JNU Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar were confined to the campus for nearly five hours.
The committee had met representatives of the protesting students and their recommendations were supposed to be submitted to the JNU administration on Monday.
“Various media reports claim that in the recommendations, the committee has advised the JNU admin to roll back proposed fee hike and also take students’ suggestion on further steps,” said Sashwat, who is a post graduate student of School of Social Sciences.
“The MHRD must publish the report it was prepared after interaction with students, because we, as students, have a right to know what has been recommended and what JNU admin will do,” Shubhanshu, a former JNUSU General Secretary and a PhD student in the varsity, said.
After the meeting with HRD Ministry officials, JNUSU Vice President Saket Moon warned that if the recommendations were not made public by the coming Monday, the students would again come out on the roads.
“They told us there is a due process to publicise the report… we respect the procedure but it has to be time-bound. So by Monday, the officials have to make the report public or else they will face the heat of protests again,” he said.
At the protest, a JNU student said: “We have been saying from the first day that we want dialogue, and we have been demanding the rollback of the hostel charges hike and removal of Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar. Once our demands are met, we shall call off our strike.”
There was a massive deployment of security forces outside the ministry building, with hundreds of policemen and other security force personnel at entry and exits of Rajendra Prasad Road where the Shastri Bhawan is.
Along with security forces, the Delhi Police had sealed the road from both ends with triple layers of barricades. Water cannons were also stationed at the spot.
The JNU students reached the spot in buses after protesters initially alleged that they were being stopped from going out of the campus.
“The (JNU) administration has stopped buses from entering JNU. We are finding alternative ways to reach the HRD Ministry,” a JNU student had told media.
(Rohan Agarwal can be contacted at [email protected])