New Delhi । Police stopped hundreds of JNU students from continuing with their protest march to Parliament by putting up barricades.
With posters in hand and chanting anti-fee hike slogans, hundreds of students marched on the streets of Delhi in defiance of Section 144 that was slapped in the morning to prevent the protests. Section 144 prevents gathering of more than four persons in one place.
Police erected barricades a kilometre away from Parliament to prevent the students from proceeding, leading to students trying to climb over the barricades.
“The protest by JNU students has been stopped by Delhi Police about a kilometre away from Parliament’s north gate,” former JNUSU president N. Sai Balaji said.
“The students are struggling hard to clear the barricades installed by the Delhi police, but they admit that they might not reach Parliament because of heavy police and CRPF deployment in the way,” a student said.
The protest march is against the hostel fee hike.
The protest was held even as the Education Secretary addressed their concern by a partial rollback and announced a new committee to open a dialogue with the students.
JNU has been rocked by protests and alleged vandalism by students, with graffiti painted on the Vice Chancellor’s office and the Dean held hostage.
Fee hike and controversy
At the heart of the controversy is the new hostel manual approved by the Inter-Hall Administration (IHA) Committee which proposed a fee hike of the hostel room from Rs 10 to Rs 300 for a double sharing room and Rs 600 from Rs 20 for a single-seater.
Some other updates in the manual which was not revised for over 14 years are the utility charges (electricity and water charges) which students did not pay for so far but will have to do so now — by paying actuals. Service charge (sanitation, maintenance, cook, mess helper, etc) was nil all these years but has now been revised to Rs 1,700 per month, which the administration has said is based on estimated amount as per actual.
The big change in the new hostel manual is the one-time mess security fee which has been raised to Rs 12,000 from the earlier Rs 5,500. This has to be paid up front but is refundable.
The students have claimed that the fee hike is about 999 per cent, including all utility charges, which the students will have to incur once the new manual is put to function.
“They claim that the students have to pay about Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 annually but according to our calculations the amount will rise to about Rs 70,000 to Rs one lakh annually,” N. Sai Balaji, AISA member and former President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, told news agency IANS.