The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has criticized 'police action' against JNU students peacefully protesting against the recently-announced 'massive hike' in hostel fee and said the move will make it 'an elitist university.' A statement issued by the party's politburo on Tuesday said the hike "will only ensure that JNU will become an elitist university as against its current character that promotes students from diverse backgrounds to afford higher education."
The statement said that according to JNU's annual report, around 40% of the students admitted in 2017 had a parental income of less than Rs 12,000 per month. The party said the JNU has produced generations of socially conscious citizens and nation builders due to this character of providing affordable education drawing in students from the backward regions and marginalised sections. "This blossoming of talent at an affordable cost is what is being attacked. This is not acceptable," it said.
The party said that "obdurate refusal" by the Vice-Chancellor to even discuss with the student union leaders is what led to this situation. "The Union HRD minister has assured the students that he shall direct the VC to start talks with the students. This should be immediately done," the statement said.
The students' union has been on a strike against the Draft Hostel Manual which was approved by the Inter-Hall Administration. They claim that the manual has provisions for the fee hike, curfew timings and dress code restrictions for students. They have said they will not end the strike until the Hostel Manual is withdrawn. The protest is also part of the students' agitation against the hostel manual and several other issues like restrictions by the administration on entry to Parthasarathy Rocks, attempts to lock students' union office, etc, they said. Last year, the varsity held its second convocation after a period of 46 years. Last year, the students' union called for boycotting the convocation, accusing JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar of "muzzling their democratic rights". The first convocation of the university was held in 1972 when G Parthasarathi was the vice-chancellor.
The JNU administration in a letter dismissed the claims. The administration in the letter said that the rates have been revised by the IHA committee after more than three decades. The rent for student single room has been hiked from Rs 10 to Rs 300, rent for student double room hiked from Rs 20 to Rs 600, one-time refundable mess security deposit hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000. Newspaper charges, Mess bill, Establishment charges have not been revised. The letter says, although the one-time mess security is increased, it is refundable. It also stated the reason for the increase in mess security, which is because of the increasing number of defaulters who do not pay the mess bills. The administration also appealed to the student community not to be misled by a few rumourmongers who are trying to derail the normal functioning of the university.
(With ANI inputs)