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JNU partially roll-back fee hike for BPL students without scholarship; Students dub it as 'eyewash', continue to strike

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: November 13, 2019  | 20:41 IST

(Eds: Updating, combining stories) New Delhi, Nov 13 (PTI) Facing intense agitation for over two weeks, JNU on Wednesday rolled back the hostel fee hike partially for BPL students not availing any scholarship, a move which failed to satisfy agitating students who dubbed it as an "eyewash", and decided to continue with the strike. The decision was taken at the varsity's 283rd Executive Council (EC) meeting, HRD Secretary R Subrahmanyam announced while asking the protesting students to resume classes. The EC meeting was shifted outside the campus at the last moment fearing trouble by agitators. On Monday, the students had gheraoed AICTE building, the venue for varsity's convocation, forcing Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to stay put for six hours. The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have been demanding withdrawal of service charges of Rs 1,700 which were introduced from next session and the one-time mess security fee, which is refundable, has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000. As per the decision, there is no change in the fee for non-BPL category students as well as BPL students availing a scholarship. The students awail two types of scholarship---JRF and SRF. While the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) scholars are awarded Rs 31, 000 the Senior Research Fellows are awarded 35,000. The EC also decided to remove the provisions for curfew timings and dress code from the hostel manual as demanded by students. "JNU Executive Committee announces major rollback in the hostel fee and other stipulations. Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS students. Time to get back to classes,"Subrahmanyam had tweeted. However, the students' union of the varsity rejected the move as a "sham propaganda" and "selective usage of facts". "We reject this sham propoganda and selective usage of facts which is an eyewash. The HRD secretary while announcing the so-called roll back has the arrogance to advise us to: 'go back to classes'. With the fee hike still in place, not only students will be going out of classes but also out of JNU," the student union said in a statement. The agitation will continue, it added. The varsity's teachers association also termed the changes as "cosmetic". A JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) representative said, "there is a no roll-back but only cosmetic changes have been made." The representative added they do not consider the EC legitimate since eight members were not present owing to the administration not informing them about the change in the venue of the meeting. Later, the varsity issued a statement giving details of the charges. As per the statement, students belonging to BPL category and not availing any scholarships will now have to pay Rs 300 instead of Rs 600 for single room while they will have to pay Rs 150 instead of Rs 300 for double occupancy room. The students under the category will have to pay only 50 per cent of the utility charges (water and electricity) and service charges (mess charges, sanitation charges and supporting staff services). A senior university official, explained, that students will have to produce a valid BPL certificate to avail the concession. According to a varsity official, the changes will be effected from the 2020 academic session and those belonging to BPL will have adequate time for producing BPL certificates. The varsity will be following the recent norms for BPL. The students from Left-backed political outfits have been protesting against the hike in hostel fees for almost a fortnight. On Wednesday, the representatives from RSS student wing ABVP have also marched to the UGC office over similar demands. The students had gathered outside the convention centre on the campus but, to press their demands effectively, shifted their protest to the administration block, which houses the vice chancellor's office and the office of other senior administration officials, on Wednesday. Beating their 'daflis' (timbrels), they shouted slogans against the JNU administration and the vice chancellor. The EC also decided to do away with a few clauses that had drawn the ire of students. The Draft Hostel manual, which was approved by the Inter-Hall Administration Committee on October 28 had a clause which said, "The residents should be back in their respective hostels latest by 11.00 pm or by half an hour after time for library closing, whichever is later. "Students who are found outside their respective hostel premises after the stipulated time and involving in any violence or otherwise disturbing the peace on campus and privacy of JNU community will be evicted from hostel forthwith apart from any other disciplinary action by the University." This will not be part of the manual as well. "All residents and guests should come to the dining hall appropriately dressed," the new manual had said. This has also been done away with. The JNU Teachers Association, which also participates the EC meetings, also alleged they were not informed about the change in the venue to the office of the Association of Indian Universities near ITO and therefore, could not attend it. PTI GJS/SLB PYK PYK

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