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#INDIA: Fees Must Fall rages at Jawaharlal Nehru University

Like Shaeera Kalla who led the movement in South Africa, Aishe Ghosh the JNU Student Union President is leading the movement In India.

NEW DELHI: India’s top university, Jawaharlal Nehru University is under pressure as it experiences the #FeesMustFall movement which is mobilizing across India.

The #FeesMustFall was a student-led protest movement that sparked in mid-October 2015 in South Africa originally. The goals of the movement were to stop increases in student fees as well as to increase government funding of universities.

Like Shaeera Kalla who led the movement in South Africa, Aishe Ghosh the JNU Student Union President is driving the protest in India. Thousands of students at Jawaharlal Nehru University and across India have begun protesting over fee increases which they cannot afford.

Students at JNU clashed with police – in riot gear – on Monday, completely outnumbered by the students, were seen jostling with the crowd.

The Vice Chancellor, the ruling regime and their allies want to divert the issue from the fee hike to pointless and polarizing debates. The “so called roll back of fee hike” is a hoax.

Aishe Ghosh, JNU Student Union President

The students, demanding a meeting with Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, were pacified by the higher education (HRD) ministry officials, who assured their concerns would be addressed. India’s Union Minister had also met Aishi Ghosh, president of the JNU Students Union.

On Thursday, students had allegedly painted various “objectionable” messages on the pedestal of the Swami Vivekananda statue, which is yet to be unveiled. Students also painted slogans and graffiti in the corridors and walls inside the Administration Block.

Have a dekko: In Pictures: #FeesMustFall sparked in India

A high-ranking decision-making body at JNU announced a “major rollback” in the hostel fee hike following protests by students. The row escalated earlier this week when thousands of students gathered outside an auditorium where a graduation ceremony was taking place.

The graduation event was attended by India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ who were unable to leave the venue for six hours due to the protest.

Police used water cannons to disperse students after they broke through barricades and surged forward.

JNU students on Friday continued their protest against the hike in hostel fee as several of them observed a sit-in at the Administration Block. Police used water cannons to disperse students after they broke through barricades and surged forward.

Students stand firm on demands amidst ‘eyewashed’ offer from JNU officials

“The protests will continue until our demands are met. We are not taking this stand because we are stubborn but because there are many students here who cannot afford to pay this fee,” one of the protesting students told BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare.

They also said they were left with no other choice than to demonstrate outside the graduation event, which was attended by India’s vice-president and a federal minister.

The JNU body also proposed a scheme to provide financial help to students from the Economically Weaker Sections.

Have a dekko: In Pictures: #FeesMustFall sparked in India

“JNU Executive Committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations. Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS students. Time to get back to classes,” Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam tweeted.

After it became clear that the partial rollback was announced only for the students who are below the poverty line (BPL), the JNU students’ union slammed the centre, calling the announcement “eyewash”.

“We reject this sham propaganda and selective usage of facts which is eyewash. The HRD secretary, while announcing the so-called rollback, 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 the JNU,” the student union said in a statement.

Students belonging to the BPL category – who are not availing any scholarship- will now be required to pay Rs. 300 instead of Rs. 600 for single rooms while they will have to pay Rs. 150 instead of Rs. 300 for double-occupancy rooms, news agency PTI reported.

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 JNU teacher has called the centre’s move an attempt to mislead the students.

Vandalism incident

Meanwhile, the police said they have received a complaint in connection with the defacement of the base of a Swami Vivekananda statue located on campus. No FIR (First Incident Report) has been registered so far.

A senior officer said, “A complaint has been received and an inquiry is under way. Legal action will be taken accordingly.”

The JNU vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar also requested teachers to convince students to accept that the new fee. “It is our duty to keep JNU on the path of becoming a globally renowned university for which peace and normalcy have to be restored on campus,” he said.

Have a dekko: In Pictures: #FeesMustFall sparked in India

About Fees Must Fall

#FeesMustFall was a student-led protest movement that sparked in mid-October 2015 in South Africa. The goals of the movement were to stop increases in student fees as well as to increase government funding of universities.

The movements were started and led by the SRC leader of the University of Witwatersrand of 2015, Shaeera Kalla.

Protests began at the University of Witwatersrand and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University before rapidly spreading to other universities across the country.

The 2015 protest ended when it was announced by the South African government that there would be no tuition fee increases for 2016. The protest in 2016 began when the South African Minister of Higher Education announced that there would be fee increases capped at 8% for 2017; however, each institution was given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase.

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About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for Indianspice.co.za. It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

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