NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (AGENCIES): Hundreds of JNU students on Thursday marched to the HRD Ministry and were later stopped when they tried to go towards Rashtrapati Bhavan during when some of them were roughed up by police who used mild force, in escalating protests for the sacking of the university Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar over the violence in the campus.
As the Delhi police struggled to make any arrest four days after the brutal attack on students and teachers by masked goons, former HRD minister and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi threw his weight behind the demand for Kumar’s removal.
Calling for Kumar’s removal, Joshi took to twitter to say it is “shocking” that he is adamant on not implementing a government proposal to resolve the fee-hike crisis in the prestigious university. The Centre for its part ruled out the removal of the vice chancellor even as the leaders of the protesting students including an injured JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh asserted they will not compromise on their demand despite assurances relating to their security.
Kumar told AGENCIES that the varsity has formed a five-member committee to probe the January 5 violence on the campus that left about 35 people injured, and recommend measures to ensure safety of students. The panel will also probe lapses, if any, in security, he said. The march in which students of other universities also participated started from Mandi House in central Delhi and was first stopped near Shastri Bhavan that houses the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). Carrying placards and banners, slogans of ‘Halla Bol’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ rent the air.
CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat and CPI leader D Raja also joined the march. The police, however, allowed the representatives of JNU students and teachers association to meet the ministry officials. After the meeting that lasted for more than an hour, Aishe Ghosh addressed the gathering and said she told the officials that the attack on students and teachers was a “traumatic incident” something that “they will remember till their last breath”. She asserted they would not settle for anything less than sacking of the vice-chancellor.
“The HRD is still thinking whether he should be removed or not. We appealed to the ministry to remove the vice-chancellor. It told us that they will hold a dialogue with us on Friday,” Ghosh said.
The ministry too appeared unwilling to relent on the demand for removal of Kumar. Higher Education secretary Amit Khare said the basic issue on which the problem arose needs to be addressed first.
“His removal is not the solution. Changing X,Y,Z is not as important as resolving the issues that have cropped up on the campus,” Khare said. The demand for Kumar’s removal has been growing after the Sunday’s mob violence on the campus. Kumar has been accused of not doing enough when the students were being attacked.
After the meeting, Ghosh abruptly announced they will proceed to the Rashtrapati Bhavan since the President is the visitor of the varsity. Later, the protesting students tried to march towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan but were stopped triggering a 30-minute drama. Some of the students were reported to be injured as police roughed them up.
The police also resorted to mild force to control the crowd who tried to block the traffic at Janpath. Using loud speakers, the police also appealed to them to maintain peace. Some of the protesters were detained by the police.
Police said the gathering remained peaceful till the meeting of the delegation with ministry officials.
However, when the delegation came out after the meeting, one of the student leaders provoked the gathering to move towards Rashtrapati Bhavan, the police said. Consequently they stopped normal traffic at Rajendra Prasad road and some of them tried to march towards the President Estate.
The police said the protestors were prevented from proceeding further and in the process 11 people were detained and subsequently released. Attacking the Centre, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi Police is very capable of maintaining law and order but is given instructions to “just stand and not take any action”. He said it is not the Delhi Police’s fault for not stopping the violence at the universities because they were following the orders they got. Continuing its attack on the Centre over the JNU violence, the Congress alleged the violence in the varsity was “officially sponsored goondaism” and said Home Minister Amit Shah and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal were responsible. The Congress demanded that those behind the violence must be identified and arrested immediately.