The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) on Tuesday demanded an independent judicial inquiry into the violence that happened at Kaveri hostel on Sunday. The students said they felt an inquiry conducted by the administration would be partisan in nature.
The JNUSU led a delegation of students to the office of Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Tuesday, but could not get an appointment with her. The students said they wanted the university to rescind a press release it had issued stating that there was a scuffle on campus between two groups of students over conducting a havan.
The statement by the university read, “It was the occasion of Rama Navami and a Havan was being organized by the students in the Kaveri Hostel and there were students who were objecting to this. The wardens and Dean of Students tried to pacify and the Havan was concluded peacefully.” It added that a group of students were not happy with the havan and soon after, at the time of dinner, a ruckus was created and heated arguments were followed by an altercation.
The JNUSU said there was a problem with the version of events that the university had sent out in its press release, as the students had no problem with a havan being organised. They had a problem with the ABVP trying to impose dietary restrictions on students.
The ABVP has denied that they had objected to non-vegetarian food being served at Kaveri Hostel. “The ABVP is trying to spread a narrative that students objected to Ram Navami celebrations, which the administration seems to have endorsed without conducting any inquiry of its own. There was no objection to any celebrations. The issue at hand was the ABVP disrupting the functioning of the hostel mess and ensuring that non-veg items be taken off the menu,” the JNUSU said in a statement.
The students also called for a forming a human chain in protest. The students’ union expressed doubts regarding the competency of an internal probe in the matter. They demanded that the JNU administration either seek a judicial inquiry or constitute a committee, with a serving or retired judge of the High Court as its chair, for investigation.
“The committee should give a call to collect all testimonies and evidence, meet with the aggrieved parties, and release the report and recommendations to the public in a time-bound manner. It has been increasingly observed that the prevalence of politically motivated violence in the campus is becoming a norm rather than the exception,” the JNUSU said.
The JNU Teachers’ Association also expressed its “dismay” at the press release issued by the university giving the whole incident a “communal colour”. The teachers’ union said it was clear that the havan, for which the warden had not issued permission, was not disrupted by anyone.
“To give a communal dimension to the whole incident, when none existed, is most unfortunate. We hope that your good offices would prevail and that you would take an objective and a non-partisan view otherwise any inquiry would be seen as already prejudiced,” the teachers said in a letter addressed to the Vice-Chancellor.