New Delhi: Students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday boycotted classes amid standoff with the administration over the fee-hike issue.
The classes were supposed to begin on Monday but could not start due to the collective boycott. The classrooms bore a deserted look even as students walked around the campus in groups as they were scared, yet determined to ensure that the boycott is successful.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union has been on a strike from October 29 over the hostel fee-hike issue.
However, the administration claimed that over 5,000 students have registered for the winter semester. The JNUSU general secretary said the numbers are fake and till now, only 1,800 to 2,000 students would have registered by now.
Prashant Kumar, a PhD student at the university, said the masters and graduation students have decided to boycott classes.
“The vice-chancellor has written to various centres to frame the time-table but there has been no development. The classes did not start today but might begin in a day or two,” Kumar said.
A student from the School of Social Science, who did not wish to be named, said, “We first want the issues to be sorted, only then can we focus on our studies. Just to start a fresh beginning, we cannot forget the past.”
A student from the School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies said when students were attacked in Jamia Millia Islamia, their vice-chancellor had put out a strong statement while JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar did not even visit those who were injured or even the Sabarmati Hostel, which was vandalised.
Another student said currently, the classes are last of their priority list and the first and foremost is to recover from the trauma of January 5 and also see a resolution of their issues and demands. The campus saw violence on January 5 when a masked mob attacked students and teachers.
The students’ union had earlier said it will ensure registration by paying only the tuition fees and not the increased hostel charges but kept the decision on hold after it found that the administration had blocked the registration portal for many students.
The teachers’ association has also given a call for ‘non-cooperation’ in academic matters with the university administration over a range of issues, including that of fee hike and the January 5 violence.
Teachers and students have been demanding the sacking of Vice-Chancellor Kumar.
According to Professor Hari Ram Mishra of the School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, some students attended classes but many of them are still not back in campus.
“The classes should commence in a proper way in the next couple of days,” he said.
Another professor requesting anonymity, said, “The time tables have not been prepared due to the ongoing situation. The teachers have been asked by the administration but the JNUTA has given a call for boycott.”
Professor R Mahalakshmi of Centre For Historical Studies, said, “There is an atmosphere of fear within the campus. How will we conduct classes for students when we ourselves are not in that frame of mind?”
“But we will try and find other ways of engaging with students but informally. For instance, through book discussions and group debates on specific subjects. But we will ensure non-cooperation with the administration,” she said.
In a meeting with Human Resource Development (HRD) officials, members of JNUTA told them that they “do not feel secure” on the campus and the atmosphere there was not conducive for academic activities.
“We do not feel secure on the campus, atmosphere not conducive for academic activities. Students who left campus after violence scared to return, how can we resume teaching?” JNUTA president D K Lobiyal told the ministry officials.
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