- Students lathi-charged while trying to cross Bhikaji Cama Metro Station
- The march to Rashtrapati Bhawan was called after a month-long protest
- The students are protesting a "nearly 300 per cent hike" in hostel fees
Police cracked down on students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi's Sarojini Nagar area on Monday, while they were marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan to register their protest against a substantial hostel fee hike imposed by the institution's administration.
The lathi-charge was launched when agitators tried to cross the Bhikaji Cama Place Metro station, which was cordoned off by the police. Television visuals showed police pushing back students trying to jump over barricades erected there.
Students called the march from the university campus to the President's residence after after a month-long protest went in vain, with the JNU administration rejecting their demand for a complete rollback of the nearly 300 per cent hike in hostel charges. They claim that the action goes against the very character of the university, which has always kept its gates open to everybody irrespective of their economic backgrounds.
A partial rollback of the fee hike proposed by the university last month was rejected by the students, who called it a "mere eyewash".
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union had earlier emailed their demands to President Ram Nath Kovind, demanding an immediate rollback of the proposed fee hike, resignation of the Vice-Chancellor and withdrawal of all police cases against agitating students.
This morning, police had tightened security around JNU, blocking traffic on nearby roads and appealing to protesters to not resort to violence. Entry and exit points of the Udyog Bhawan, Lok Kalyan Marg and Central Secretariat Metro stations were also closed over concerns that the students may use the intra-city rail system to make their way to Rashtrapati Bhawan.
In November, JNU students had marched towards the parliament chanting anti-fee hike slogans and carrying placards and posters. Two protesters were injured in the clashes that erupted back then.
Students accuse the JNU administration of taking unilateral decisions on several issues, including the hostel fee hike, while turning a deaf ear to their suggestions. A three-member committee set up to look into ways to mediate between the agitating students and the administration has submitted its report to the Human Resources Development Ministry, but no call has been taken in this regard until now.