Delhi Police used water cannon on JNU protesters after students clashed with the police personnel in riot gear on Monday.
The students were protesting against a fee hike and the “anti-student” policies of the varsity’s administration.
Students say they were manhandled and lathi-charged by the police.
A large number of students gathered on Monday morning in response to Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union (JNUSU) call to assemble on campus and march to the AICTE auditorium, where the university’s convocation ceremony was being held with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu as chief guest.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ was stuck inside the AICTE auditorium for over three hours, Indian Express said, as the protests escalated.
On Monday, massive police force and security personnel were deployed at the auditorium in Vasant Kunj, Indian Express said.
The gates of the AICTE, around 3 km from the JNU, were locked and the security personnel were stationed in and outside the premises, PTI reported.
Barricades were placed outside the north and west gates of the JNU campus, as well as on the route between the AICTE auditorium and the JNU at Baba Balaknath Marg, near the traffic signal, underneath the flyover and near the venue, an officer said.
Students broke these blockades and marched towards the venue around 11.30 am. The police then used water cannons to disperse the protestors and some students were detained, PTI said.
The students’ union has been on a strike for nearly two weeks against the Draft Hostel Manual which was approved by the Inter-Hall Administration. They say that the manual has provisions for fee hike, curfew timings and dress code restrictions for students.
They have said they will not end the strike till the Hostel Manual is withdrawn.
CPI’s Rajya Sabha MP D Raja told News18, “University authorities should understand. The protest is genuine, JNU is one of the best universities in the world and the students are fighting for their rights,”
During Monday’s protest, former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji posted photos from the campus asking if the Delhi Police was allowed to handle “tear gas and weapons” in civilian clothing.
His observations were echoed by activist Kavita Krishnan and the CPI-ML, who slammed plainclothesmen wielding guns and tear gas.
With placards in their hands, the students played the tambourine and raised slogans like “Delhi Police Go Back” and calling Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar a “thief”.
When Pokhriyal was not able to leave the convocation venue ,JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh and vice president Saket Moon were asked to talk to the students to make way for the HRD minister. “Police requested the protesters to move from the gate, but they refused,” an officer told the news agency.
The JNUSU office-bearers met Pokhriyal who assured them that their demands would be looked into. They, however, were not able to meet the V-C.
The protesters also raised slogans like “we want V-C”.
“Historic day for us that we broke barricades, reached the convocation venue and met the minister,” Ghosh said. “This could happen because we were united.”
“This is not the end of our movement. We urged the HRD minister to ask the V-C to have a dialogue with the students,” the JNUSU president said. “It is due to the V-C that things have come to be like this.“The HRD minister has promised that students’ union would be called for meeting to the ministry.“
“We will have to ask the executive council members to reject the hostel manual in its upcoming meeting on Wednesday,” Ghosh said.
Monday’s protest was also part of the students’ agitation against several other issues like restrictions by the administration on entry to Parathasarathy Rocks, attempts to lock students’ union office, etc, they said.
Last year, the students’ union called for boycotting the convocation, accusing JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar of “muzzling their democratic rights”.
(With PTI inputs)