New Delhi: JNU Vice-Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar met officials of the human resource development (HRD) ministry Wednesday in connection with Sunday’s violence on the JNU campus.
At the meeting, his first with the ministry since Sunday, Jagadesh Kumar apprised officials of the current situation at the university, where over 30 people were injured in an attack by a masked mob.
Two ministry officials present at the meeting told ThePrint that Jagadesh Kumar had been asked to restore normalcy in the campus, and be more approachable for students. The officials also refuted speculation that the ministry will take action against the university administration. The ministry, they said, doesn’t want to take any action just yet and is watching how the university administration tackles the situation.
Approached for comment, a ministry spokesperson confirmed the V-C had a meeting with Secretary Amit Khare, but did not reveal the discussions that took place.
The meeting came two days after another interaction between other university officials and the ministry. On Monday, JNU rector Chintamani Mahapatra, registrar Pramod Kumar and other senior university officials were called to the ministry, where they presented a chronology of Sunday night’s events and a two-page report on the violence.
An assurance from the V-C
At the hour-long meeting Wednesday, the JNU V-C was asked about the ways in which he was trying to restore normalcy on campus.
“We asked him about the steps he is taking to bring normalcy to the campus and told him to take all measures to ensure that things get back to normal,” said one of the officers who spoke to ThePrint. “We did not talk to him about the sequence of events or police action.”
A second official said the JNU V-C had assured them that things were getting back to normal and students who wanted to register for the next semester were being able to do so.
There have been allegations that on the day of the violence, students had been prevented from registering for the winter semester.
The V-C, according to the official, told the ministry that servers “destroyed by students” had been restored and the process of registration begun.
“He told us that, by Wednesday, more than 3,000 students had registered for the next semester and, by Thursday, the university expects the count to go up,” the official added.
In an interview to India Today Wednesday, the V-C had said that university “students deliberately damaged the data centre”, adding that protesting students came to the server room and asked the technical staff to leave.
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) January 8, 2020
The university has made the same claim in the report submitted to the ministry Monday.
Ministry officials also told the V-C to be more accessible, to which he is learnt to have said that he is “very approachable and students can meet him anytime”.
‘Freedom to protest’
In the India Today interview, Kumar said students should have the freedom to protest.
“We have allotted a big ground, known as the Sabarmati ground, for students who want to join together and protest,” he told the news channel.
It was in front of the Sabarmati hostel that the attack on teachers and students took place Sunday night during a meeting of the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA).
He also said the fee hike issue had been “overhyped”, adding that only the room rent had been increased.
The controversial fee hike in JNU, a central government university, was proposed in October. Under the new fee regime, the rent for a single room is supposed to go up from Rs 20 to Rs 600 per month and that for a double room from Rs 10 to Rs 300 per month.
A sum of Rs 1,700 outlined as monthly service and utility charge was brought down to Rs 1,000 after massive student protests. Those who are registering for the new semester are supposed to pay up according to the new charges.
With inputs by Revathi Krishnan