After months of protest by students that strengthened over the last few days, the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Wednesday announced a partial roll-back in the fee hike and assistance for students of economically weaker sections.
The decision was taken in the varsity’s Executive Council (EC) meeting, which had to be moved outside the campus at the last moment fearing agitation by students.
“The JNU orders partial rollback of hostel fees hike, decision taken in varsity’s Executive Council meeting,” officials of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) said.
HRD Secretary R Subramanyam, in a tweet, confirmed the development.
The students’ union has been on strike against the draft hostel manual, approved by the Inter-Hall Administration (IHA), which it claims has provisions for the hostel fee hike, dress code, and curfew timings.
However, the JNU Students’ Union said the strike would continue, with student activist and former union president N Sai Balaji describing the move as a “lie” and a “trap.” The protesting students have also found support from their counterparts at Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and Delhi University’s Campus Law Centre.
Under the new proposal by the JNU’s executive committee, the rent for a double-seater room, which was hiked to Rs 200 per month from Rs 10 per month earlier, has now been reduced to Rs 100 per month. Rent for the single-seater room, proposed at Rs 600 per month from Rs 20 per month earlier, has been reduced to Rs 200 per month. The one-time refundable mess security fee has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000.
Significantly, the main bone of contention — the utility charges of Rs 1,700 that have been introduced – have not been removed or reduced.
Students News18 spoke to after the announcement of the roll-back described it as a “lollipop” and said the protests would continue as their main demands have not been addressed.
Thousands of JNU students on Monday clashed with police as their protest over fee hike on the varsity’s convocation day escalated. Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal was forced to stay inside the AICTE premises for over six hours. Water cannons were used to disperse the protestors, and police said some of the students were detained.
The students had alleged that the university is facing an academic emergency created by the administration. Reiterating their demands, they said a meeting on hostel rules be reconvened in the presence of student representatives, and all “regressive parts” pertaining to clothing/timings/etc. be revoked.
“The 999% fee hike from Rs 2,740 to Rs 30,100 annually must be rolled back immediately,” said a statement released on Monday.
The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) also had extended support to the protesting students’ union and demanded the varsity’s vice-chancellor step down.
JNUTA Secretary Surajit Mazumdar on Wednesday said the association was waiting for clear information and would react after it.
“If the reports are to be believed, there is no rollback, but only cosmetic changes have been made. We have, in any case, said that this is not a legitimate Executive Council meeting, and only a proper meeting, which considers the issue after due deliberations and discussions with student representatives, can make decisions in this regard,” he said.