JNU compromise formula back on the table


Students should end protests as basic demands now met, says HRD Secretary who met JNUSU leaders and the V-C

The compromise formula currently under discussion between agitating students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and its Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar is the same as the agreement that was under discussion a month ago and led to the transfer of then Higher Education Secretary R. Subrahmanyam.

On December 11, following talks between both sides, Higher Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank took the decision to give the V-C an ultimatum to implement the agreement or resign, according to a senior government official. However, neither side implemented the terms of the agreement.

On December 13, Mr. Subrahmanyam, who had been coordinating the talks, was transferred, and the students’ agitation resumed.

On Friday, current HRD Secretary Amit Khare separately met the V-C and the leaders of the students union. This is the Ministry’s latest attempt to broker peace in the two and a half month long standoff, initially sparked by a hostel fee hike, that has led to mass street protests and attacks against students and teachers on campus last weekend.

Following the discussions, Mr. Khare told reporters that as the JNU administration has met the basic demands of students with regards to hostel fees, they should withdraw the agitation and return to classes. He pointed out that the cost of service and utility charges are not being charged to students and would be borne by the University Grants Commission instead, although students will still pay a higher room rent.

However, Mr. Khare was non-committal on students demand for notification of their elected Union, only saying that “while many other demands may be there, the basic demand has been met.”

Hostel fee

The hostel fee compromise as well as the notification of the Union were both part of the agreement which had been worked out on December 11. It had also stated that students would call off their protest while the JNU administration would "take a lenient view" of incidents that occurred during the agitation. Students had demanded that all FIRs filed against them and proctorial investigations be withdrawn.

On Friday, the V-C told the Ministry that he was “taking all steps to implement the decisions arrived at” as per the December 11 agreement. However, so far, action has only been taken on the issue of hostel fees.

Student leaders said they would take the Ministry’s proposal back to the Union office-bearers and counsellors for further discussion.

“The HRD Ministry has listened to our issues. We have conveyed our demands, and they are trying in their way. They will send us a circular. Once we have discussed with our office-bearers, we will decide whether to call off the protests or not,” said JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who was injured in the attacks on Sunday. She added that the cases against students must be withdrawn, speaking even as Delhi Police named her as a suspect in their probe into Sunday’s attacks.

Contrasting the dialogue with the HRD Ministry with the accusations being made by the Delhi Police,

‘V-C must go’

JNUSU vice-president Saket Moon said, “You can infer that we have faith in the HRD Ministry, not in the Home Ministry.” On one point, the students remained adamant. “We have lost all faith in the vice-chancellor. We will not budge from our demand that the V-C must go,” said Ms. Ghosh.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 5:37:49 AM |

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