A massive protest broke out today outside the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi as hundreds of students blocked roads near the campus and raised slogans amid heavy police presence, claiming that Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar has turned down repeated requests to meet them and discuss recent hostel fee hike. The university has hiked the hostel fee by nearly 300 per cent, which "will affect an overwhelming number of students", according to the protesters.
Several protesting students were stopped by police this morning when they tried to cross barricades and march towards the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in Vasant Kunj where Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the varsity's third convocation ceremony.
In dramatic visuals, students were seen carrying banners, raising slogans and trying to cross police barricades as cops used water cannons to stop them.
"While we were paying Rs 2,500 a month earlier, we will now have to pay Rs 7,000 per month. We are compelled to protest because our issues have not been addressed," said a protester, adding that there was nearly a 300 per cent hike. The protesting students also said they are unhappy with the recent "curfew timings and dress code restrictions" at the varsity in the recent hostel manual.
Vice President Naidu attended the convocation ceremony along with Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'. As he met Aishi Ghosh, president of the JNU Students Union, Mr Pokhriyal assured that students' concerns will be met.
However, the student protesters, who have blocked roads outside the campus, have refused to move till the JNU Vice Chancellor meets them.
The students body had earlier called for a boycott of the convocation, demanding rollback of the hostel draft manual and fee hike proposed by the administration.
In a statement released before the protests, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union said the "fee hike crushes the dream of equality irrespective of ability to afford".
"The fee hike will affect an overwhelming number of students. It denies those from the deprived sections to avail education if they cannot pay," the JNUSU said in a statement.
"It crushes the dream of equality irrespective of ability to afford. Other provisions like Dress Code and Curfew timings reflect the regressive dystopia that the admin wants JNU to become," the student body added.
Students have been protesting against the fee hike for more than a week now. The panel that takes a call on fee raised the without any consultation with the students body, they claim.