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JNU students attending convocation say last day 'ruined' due to protests

twitter-logoPTI | November 11, 2019 | Updated 20:02 IST

New Delhi, Nov 11 (PTI) Many students who got their degrees at the third convocation ceremony of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were left disheartened on Monday owing to the protests over fee hike as they felt their last day as a JNU student was "ruined". There were several others who extended support to the protesting students and even protested inside the convocation venue in solidarity. Thousands of students of the JNU clashed with police on Monday as their protest over fee hike on the varsity's convocation day escalated, forcing HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' to stay inside the AICTE premises for over six hours. The students were protesting outside the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the venue for the varsity's third convocation. Among the students who attended the convocation was Saurabh Sharma, an RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader, and one of the key witnesses in the 2016 sedition case. He was the students' union joint secretary at the time of the row. In February of 2016, JNU was in news after alleged seditious slogans were raised on the campus that snowballed into a major political controversy. As soon as Sharma came near the gate, students heckled him and shouted, 'Saurabh Sharma go back' even as he told them, 'We are with you on this'. "The ABVP is also against the hostel manual. We have also been holding events against the fee hike effected in the manual," he said. Many students, who got their degrees, were also left stranded inside the venue as protests escalated forcing them to stay put. "Fee hike is not done but the protesting students should understand that this is a convocation ceremony and our last day as a JNU student. They have ruined the day for us," said a student who did not wish to be identified. Another student, who had specially come down from Chicago to collect her PhD degree, said she was afraid that she would miss her flight. "The police are not allowing us to move out since they fear the protesters might do something. I have to go to Dwarka and pack my stuff since I have a flight to the US at 8 pm. I had landed on Sunday and my flight is tonight and I cannot afford to miss it," she said. Even as some students were leaving from the small gate adjoining the main gate of AICTE, they were heckled by the protesters, who said, 'Shame, Shame' and tried to instigate them to join the protests. "These students are saying 'Shame', 'Shame' to us but it is actually shameful for them. Our aged parents are stuck inside and there are even pregnant women but these students are worried about their demands. They could have protested inside the campus," she said. Later, around 50 students, who had come to attend the convocation ceremony, started a protest inside the guest house where HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar were waiting, and demanded that the vice-chancellor meet the students. Around 20 students even sat inside the gate to express solidarity with the protesters and raised "anti-administration" slogans. They were fighting with the police who tried to quell the protests outside the venue. "The vice-chancellor should meet the students. Why is he scared? These are educated students. They will not lynch him," said one of the students. Another student said, while signalling towards the protesting students, "Our parents would often ask us, 'What do you do in JNU? Today, they will know what we did in the JNU through all these years." PTI SLB KJ

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