The HRD Ministry held a series of meetings on Friday with the JNU Vice Chancellor, students union and later the UGC on the JNU fee hike issue and appealed to the protesters to call off their agitation, saying their basic demand of fee revision has been agreed to by the university.
Officials of the Ministry told the members of the students’ union that they are not supposed to pay utility and service charges and the cost will be borne by the University Grants Commission (UGC) as promised earlier.
The Ministry, however, remained non-committal on other demands of the students including notification of the students’ union and dropping of proctorial enquiries.
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ expressed “distress” over the involvement of JNU students in the January 5 violence as pointed out by Delhi Police.
In a series of tweets, he said that the Ministry will not tolerate any violence and anarchy on the campus as it is committed to ensuring the academic atmosphere in educational institutions.
“JNU has agreed to the basic demand of students, they are requested to call off the agitation. We met the Vice-Chancellor and his team in the morning. Later we met the students union representatives and we told them that the students are not supposed to pay any utility fee and service charges but only the increased room rent,” HRD secretary Amit Khare told reporters.
“There can be as many demands,” he said responding to a question on notification of the students’ union.
The Ministry first had a meeting with a five-member team from JNU including VC M Jagadesh Kumar, Registrar Pramod Kumar and three rectors.
“All decisions taken earlier at the HRD Ministry about hostel fee being implemented in totality. We have already written to UGC with estimated expenditures to release the funding. The deadline for registration will be extended if need be. The classes will resume from January 13,” Kumar said after the meeting.
The Ministry officials then met four members of JNUSU. While the meeting was underway, the Delhi Police made public names of nine suspects involved in the violence and claimed JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh was one of them.
“Our demand for JNU VC’s resignation stands. We will meet counsellors and office bearers and take a call on whether to end our agitation or not. We have put forward our points, waiting for HRD Ministry’s decision to take the final call. Have also sought HRD Ministry’s intervention in FIRs and proctorial enquiry initiated against us by the university admin,” Ghosh told reporters after the meeting.
JNUSU Vice President Saket Moon said they have faith in the HRD Ministry but not in the Home Ministry which is “helicoptering” the whole issue.
The Ministry later called an urgent meeting with UGC officials including chairman DP Singh.
“We discussed the issue and the modalities are being worked out,” the HRD Secretary said.
The HRD Ministry had in November formed a three-member panel to mediate between the agitating students and administration and restore normalcy in the campus. According to the formula proposed by the Ministry in December, the JNU administration would charge only the increased room rent and the service and utility charges were to be borne by the University Grants Commission.
In return, the students would call off their agitation and engage in dialogue with the university administration.
To compensate for the lost academic period, JNU was asked to extend the semester by two weeks. The university was also advised to notify the students’ union and withdraw police complaints against students.