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New Delhi: Human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani on Friday rejected demands by some parliamentarians to intervene and reconsider punishment meted out to students of various universities, including Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Terming the issue as a “pandora’s box", Irani said that such institutions enjoy autonomy to handle administrative matters.

Her remark was part of a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of the HRD ministry. The discussion started on Thursday and concluded on Friday.

The comments come in the backdrop of Jawaharlal Nehru University rusticating three students for varying durations and fining a group of others, including its student union president Kanhaiya Kumar.

The disciplinary action was imposed almost two-and-a-half months after some of these students organised an event (on 9 February) in the university campus in New Delhi where some students allegedly raised anti-national slogans.

A case of sedition was registered against some of the students, including Kumar. A section of the Jawaharlal Nehru University students is on strike in the campus to protest against the university’s action.

Congress parliamentarian Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu and Communist Party of India MP D. Raja, among others, raised the issue of action against students and urged the HRD minister to waive the punishment.

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