The Delhi Police on Thursday evening resorted to a baton charge to disperse hundreds of students who had gathered in the heart of the capital to demand the sacking of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar, reduction in fees, and arrests of perpetrators of violence in the university campus. The police have not made any arrests yet in Sunday night’s violence by masked goons inside the JNU campus.
Protesting students and teachers received a shot in the arm from an unlikely source with veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, the minister for human resource development in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, demanding that the JNU V-C be sacked. Joshi tweeted: “It is shocking that the V-C is adamant for not implementing the government proposal.
This attitude is deplorable and in my opinion such a V-C should not be allowed to continue in this post.”
Thousands of students, including those associated with students’ organisations of the Congress and Left parties, marched from Mandi House to Shastri Bhavan to meet Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry officials. HRD Secretary Amit Khare said officials would talk to Kumar again on Friday over the students’ claims of revised fee not being implemented. “The removal of the vice chancellor is not a solution,” he said.
The student protests come in the wake of protests over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens.
Refusing to entertain a plea seeking CAA be declared constitutional, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the country was going through difficult times and there was so much violence that endeavour should be for peace. A Bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, said it would hear the petitions challenging validity of CAA when the violence stops. “There is so much of violence going on. The country is going through difficult times and the endeavour should be for peace... This court’s job is to determine validity of a law and not declare it as constitutional,” the CJI said. The SC had earlier fixed a batch of 59 petitions for hearing on January 22.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in the Assembly she would boycott a meeting called by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on January 13 over violence and the CAA.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged the JNU violence was “officially sponsored goondaism” and said Home Minister Amit Shah and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal were responsible for it. The JD(U), headed by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, asked ally BJP to take action against its leaders who had been speaking on issues settled by the brass, violating the “coalition dharma”.
One hundred and six retired bureaucrats on Thursday wrote an open letter to people, saying both the NPR and the NRC were “unnecessary and wasteful exercises” that will cause hardships to them. Former L-G of Delhi Najeeb Jung, former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, and former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, among others, urged the public to insist the Centre to repeal relevant sections of CAA 1955, pertaining to the issue of national identity cards.