Thousands of students came out on the streets today leading up to the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry in Delhi at the Shastri Bhavan demanding complete rollback of the proposed hostel fee hike at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
"We have been saying from the first day that we want dialogue, and we have been demanding the roll back of the hostel manual, remove Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar. Once our demands our met we shall call back our strike," said student union leaders as Delhi Police officials stepped up security measures.
"We have been informed that our delegation will be allowed to meet the HRD ministry officials, so we shall wait here," they added.
The students of JNU demand a public announcement of the recommendations on this issue by a high-powered committee in JNU.
Deployment of security forces was seen outside the ministry building. Hundreds of policemen and other security forces manned entry and exits of Doctor Rajendra Prasad road where the HRD ministry is situated.
Along with the security forces, the Delhi Police has sealed the road from both ends with triple layers of barricading. The forces are also equipped with water cannons.
The protesting JNU students came in buses as the protest started with the students alleging that they were not allowed to go out of the campus.
"The (JNU) administration has stopped buses from entering JNU. We are finding alternative ways to reach the HRD Ministry," a JNU student said.
The HRD Ministry earlier appointed a committee headed by former chief of University Grants Commission (UGC) VC Chauhan to initiate a dialogue with the protesting students of JNU who had accused the administration of avoiding a dialogue over the hostel fee hike proposed.
UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain and NICTE member Anil Sahasrabudhe are also part of the high-powered committee.
"There will be no more meeting with the students. We have understood their concerns and will keep them in mind while putting our recommendations," Mr Jain said.
He added that the JNU administration will take a final call on the issue.
However, the report, which was supposed to be submitted to the JNU administration on Monday, has not been made public yet.
The committee was constituted after the failure of several attempts to pacify the agitating students. During one such protest, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and JNU Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar were confined to the campus for nearly five hours.
While the JNU administration had announced a 50 per cent concession for those belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category, the students rejected the proposal, terming it as an eyewash, and demanded complete rollback of the proposed hostel fee hike.