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JNU Students Ramp up Protest Over Attendance Rule, Demand Removal of VC Jagadesh Kumar

Students, in large numbers, gathered outside the JNU administrative block to raise their demands with the JNU vice chancellor Jagadesh Kumar and requested to meet him as well.

Deepa Rana | CNN-News18

Updated:February 16, 2018, 12:02 AM IST
JNU Students Ramp up Protest Over Attendance Rule, Demand Removal of VC Jagadesh Kumar
Image was tweeted by JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar's twitter handle @mamidala90.
New Delhi: Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Thursday ramped up their protest against recently introduced compulsory minimum attendance rule by the administration.

The protesting students demanded immediate rollback of the new rule.

Students, in large numbers, gathered outside the JNU administrative block to raise their demands with the JNU vice chancellor Jagadesh Kumar and requested to meet him as well.

The demands included the withdrawal of a circular issued by the JNU administration on February 9 that said the administration may deny fellowships and debar students from examinations if they didn't fulfil the minimum attendance requirement.

Protests intensified after a meeting of the JNU academic council scheduled for February 23 was postponed indefinitely. A circular for the same was issued by the JNU registrar on February 12.

Claiming that the protesting students were not restricting the movement of any official on campus, the JNU Students Union, in a statement, said, "Students have been peacefully waiting to meet JNU VC and raise questions about compulsory attendance."

Alleging that the administration was evading dialogue with the students, JNUSU said, "All university officials freely moved into and out of administration building. No one was stopped and students have not blocked any entrances and are peacefully waiting to meet the VC. Ironically, JNU VC has taken to Twitter to say we are violating High Court judgment but has he forgotten that the same HC has asked him to meet the students and union and resolve the issues?"

Speaking to CNN-News18, JNU student Sai Balaji said: "The compulsory attendance policy was never part of Academic Council agenda nor was discussed in it."

Terming a number of warnings and actions by the administration as "illegal", Balaji said, "He (JNU VC) has threatened to take away hostels, cancel studentship, stop fellowships, which, for him to do, is illegal. This is clearly against JNU statutes. By threatening and not meeting students, the VC has forced students to come to the admin block to meet him and question him. However, he has been running away from meeting the students like he did from holding a declared academic council meeting."

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the JNU registrar on Thursday said that students had blockaded the administration block of the varsity and were even restricting officials, including two rectors, from exiting the building. The statement laid out that the protest was in violation of a court order that restricts such protests within 100 metres of the administration block.

"It is directed that no protest of any sort shall be undertaken by the students within 100 metres radius of the administrative block," the court order said, adding that the administration could seek the help of police to maintain order on the campus.

In a series of tweets, VC Jagdeesh Kumar said: "As you can see from my past tweets, JNU administration including the VC, regularly meets the students for their inputs. Students can meet with appointment or can meet every first Monday of the month in the afternoon without any appointment. Even after JNU administration has promised to meet the JNUSU officer bearers, see how they have mistreated and shouted at the two rectors. All this against the attendance in University? Shouldn't such behaviour be condemned?

"JNUSU led students have confined top officials of JNU in admin building since 11 AM. When they tried to go out of admin building, they were shouted at and forced to go back into the building. Unbecoming of students. Shouldn't such behaviour be condemned? Taking the university to ransom by JNUSU led students and confining the top officials in admin building since morning is highly condemnable. Let us raise our voice against such unwelcome behaviour. You can see the pictures to realize how they are bent upon creating unrest in JNU," he said.

The JNU Teachers Association in a statement released on Monday had extended support to the students. The statement said: "JNUTA has serious reservations regarding the new system of mandatory attendance. Procedural lapses that have taken place in implementation of the new rules were in contrast to the democratic decision making processes of the university. After the general body meeting, several Centres and Schools, in addition to JNUTA, have expressed their grievances. However, instead of taking cognizance of these reservations, the JNU Administration has repeatedly sought to impose its decisions through coercion. Therefore, JNUTA urges the JNU administration to immediately start a dialogue with students and teachers."
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