Students of JNU marching to protest against proposed fee hike in New Delhi. Reuters
New Delhi: The police in Delhi on Monday used batons to disperse a march of students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The students, who had been agitating against a massive fee hike since October, were marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan to register their protest with President Ramnath Kovind.
Police erected roadblocks and ordered the Delhi Metro to shut several stations in a bid to foil the march.
The baton-charge was launched when the agitators tried to cross the Bhikaji Cama Place Metro station, which was cordoned off by the police. Television visuals showed police pushing back students trying to jump over the barricades.
The students sought to meet Kovind. They wanted to ask him to intervene and ensure that the hike in hostel fee is rolled back.
The protestors distributed photos and claimed that the police have closed all gates of the university before beginning the march. They were also shouting slogans like "Delhi Police go back" and "Education must be free for all." As per police request, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation temporarily shut entry and exit at Udhogbhavan, Lok Kalyan Marg and Central Secretariat metro stations. "As advised by Delhi Police, trains are not halting at Udyog Bhawan and Lok Kalyan Marg metro stations,” DMRC announced.
Roads leading to JNU were closed for traffic, the traffic police said.
Baba Gangnath Marg is closed for traffic due to the long march, they added.
The students have been protesting for over a month against the hike in the hostel fee and have given a call to boycott the upcoming semester exams despite repetitive warnings from the administration.
Earlier, the HRD Ministry set up a three-member committee to look for ways to mediate between the protesting students and the varsity administration, and thereby restore normal functioning in JNU.
But the administration rejected their demand for the complete rollback of the proposed hike in hostel charges. They claim that the action goes against the very character of the university, which has always kept its gates open for everybody irrespective of economic background.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union had earlier emailed their demands to President Kovind, demanding rollback of the proposed fee hike, resignation of the Vice-Chancellor and withdrawal of all police cases against agitating students.
The agitating students have also threatened to boycott final exams scheduled on December 12. The Centre is reported to have moved to offer a complete rollback of the hike in a bid to persuade the students to sit for the exams. The issue has been taken up in Parliament and has also been discussed in detail by the Human Resource Development ministry with both Home Minister Amit Shah and the Prime Minister’s Office.
JNU students have been protesting since October 28 - mainly over the administration’s decision to hike the hostel charges mid-session with a new manual.
Students say protest will go on until the demands of rollback of fee hikes and release of detained students are accepted.
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