Striking JNUSU holds Dean hostage over mess fee hike

| | New Delhi

In a yet another incident of illegal confinement of university official within his office, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Dean of Students Umesh Ashok Kadam was allegedly “manhandled, abused, heckled, coerced and forcefully confined” in his chamber by a ‘rowdy’ group of agitating students led by JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), who were protesting against the recent revision of mess and other hostel charges on Monday.

Narrating the incident, the dean told The Pioneer that office-bearers of JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) ‘instigated’ the agitators for violence. “The hostel presidents present there even condemned the behaviour of JNUSU office-bearers telling them that they cannot be violent. However, they were not ready to listen at all,” he said.

According to the official source in the JNU administration, the incident happened while the dean was in a meeting with some of the hostel presidents over the issue of revised mess charges on Monday at Inter-Hall Administration (IHA) building.

“The meeting was quite peaceful in the beginning but it took an ugly turn when 15-20 agitated students -- including some girls who were protesting outside forcefully entered the Dean’s office and confined him. They insisted that they will not let him go unless some concrete decision on the matter comes up,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

“They blocked the door of Dean’s room from inside using a sofa. Some of them even had scuffled with the security guards present there as they tried to stop the guards from making videos of the whole incident and stop them from rescuing the dean. While all this was going on the Dean tried several times to get out of his chamber but they do not allow him to do so. All this went on for more than an hour, during which he was coerced and heckled by JNUSU led students and it was only after much struggle the dean was able to make his way out of his own room,” said the university official.

A hostel president present in the meeting implicitly accepted the incident saying that such things are of “common occurrence” when students are in agitated mode.

According to another hostel president, a committee has been constituted to look into the matter of fee revision with two hostel presidents on board. He slammed the constitution of committee saying that officials have no right to decide that among the 17-18 hostel presidents who will be the representative in the committee. He said even JNUSU vice-president Simone Zoya Khan, “who is also the convener of IHA has been kept out of the committee”.

On the other hand Saurabh Sharma of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) slammed the JNUSU saying it was ABVP who pressurized the administration to form a committee on the matter rather than JNUSU. “We are fighting against the hike in mess and other charges. It is under our pressure that they have stayed the revised fees and were forced to form a committee for the same. While on the other hand, the JNUSU seems to be unsatisfied with the committee also because they don’t want to resolve the issue at earliest,” said Saurabh Sharma, former Joint Secretary JNUSU.

Condemning the incident in a Press release, the JNU administration said that a police complaint has been filed by the JNU security unit and the incident would be investigated by Chief Proctor’s office. Meanwhile JNU administration has shared a couple of CCTV footage in which agitators were seen scuffling with the security personnel trying to make way into Dean’s room.

“They acted like goons and not the agitators. The incident also shows the downfall of the student politics and its pathetic state in JNU,” said a JNU teacher from School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLL&CS).



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