New Delhi: After nearly a month-long stand-off between the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and its administration over hostel fee hike, the central government finally intervened and formed a three-member committee Monday to resolve the matter.
In a letter sent to JNU, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) asked the university to “normalise” its functioning soon.
“With a view to restoring the normal functioning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University through dialogue with all the stakeholders and to advise the university administration for resolution of contentious issues, government has appointed a High Power Committee,” the letter stated.
Former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) V.S. Chauhan, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain and chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Anil Sahasrabuddhe are the members of the committee.
The ministry has asked the committee to suggest ways to resolve the stand-off. “The above said committee is requested to initiate dialogue with the students and the university administration immediately and submit recommendations on action to be taken,” the letter said.
The UGC will provide the required support for the functioning of the committee.
A member of the committee, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint, “We have been instructed by the ministry to establish a dialogue with the university administration and students, and find a solution to the ongoing problem arising after the fee hike. We will try to work out a possible solution keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue.”
Prior to this, the HRD ministry had asked JNU students to get back to classes.
Secretary, Higher Education, R. Subrahmanyam had last week tweeted, “Executive Committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations. Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS students. Time to get back to classes”.
What happened so far?
The new fee announced by the university includes a mufti-fold hike in room rent — from Rs 10/20 per month to Rs 300/600 per month. A new service charge of Rs 1,700 per month has also been added — taking the monthly hostel fee up to Rs 2,000-2,300. ThePrint had last week reported how JNU will become the most expensive central university after the hostel fee hike.
The proposal to hike the JNU hostel fees came in the first week of October after a draft of the new hostel manual with details of the proposed hike was uploaded for suggestions on the university’s website. While protests started shortly after that, it intensified last week when students blocked the road behind the university in front of the AICTE office and police had to use water cannons to disperse the crowd.
In the wake of the protests, JNU partially rolled back the hike on 13 November for students belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category. The university also asked the students to end their agitation and get back to classes. The protests, however, continued, with the students calling the rollback an “eye-wash”.