The Jawaharlal Nehru University students union on Tuesday rejected “outright” the punishment meted out to its students, based on the recommendations of the High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC). The union termed the enquiry committee “casteist” and “anti-reservation”. The students, along with JNU teachers’ association members, burnt the pages of the HLEC report.
Opposing the punishment meted out to students in connection with an event marking the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on the JNU campus, the students will start an indefinite hunger strike from Wednesday.
As per the recommendations of the committee, Umar Khalid, who is pursuing PhD from the School of Social Sciences (SSS), has been rusticated for two semesters, while Anirban Bhattacharya, also a PhD scholar at SSS, has been rusticated till July 15. The administration has made the university campus out of bounds for Anirban for five years. JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, a PhD scholar at the School of International Studies, has been asked to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000.
A total of 14 students have been asked to pay fines varying from Rs.10,000 to Rs.20,000.
Kanhaiya Kumar as well as Anirban and Umar Khalid were arrested by the Delhi police on sedition charges and sent to Tihar Jail. All three of them were later released on conditional bail.
The administration, however, said it will stick to its stand in the matter. “The administration is going to stick to its stand. We will go by whatever has been written in the letters sent to these students,” JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar told The Hindu .
The letters sent to the students say “the student is required to pay the fine and show the proof to the office, failing which the hostel facility will be withdrawn with immediate effect and further registration will not be allowed.”
However, the students have decided to launch a protest against the administration. “We had opposed the formation of the HLEC earlier and now we reject the punishment given to students based on its recommendations. When the committee is questionable, its result will also be questionable. It is a casteist and anti-reservation committee, which was headed by Rakesh Bhatnagar, who is the head of youth for equality cell and known for his caste-based treatment of students,” Kanhaiya told reporters here.'Our version not taken'
“What is worse is the fact that the committee announced its verdict without even taking the versions of the students concerned. Umar and Anirban, who have been given the harshest punishment, were not even on the campus when the report held them guilty. They were not able to give their side of the story,” he added.
Asked if the students will take the legal course to oppose the administration’s decision, the JNUSU president said the legal option was always open to them, but right now they were going to “fight back through protests and hunger strike, the best tools available to a student”.
“Instead of fighting us politically, the government is targeting us through the JNU administration. How can a student who pays Rs. 250 as semester fee pay amounts like Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 20,000? This is harassment. We do not accept this farcical committee,” said Shehla Rashid, vice president, JNUSU.
A five-member committee submitted its report on March 11 and the quantum of punishment based on the report was announced on Monday.