Home >News >India >Demand for ouster of JNU V-C grows, HRD says not a priority
Senior Left leaders join the JNU students’ protest march to the HRD ministry, in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Senior Left leaders join the JNU students’ protest march to the HRD ministry, in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Demand for ouster of JNU V-C grows, HRD says not a priority

  • Govt appoints internal panel to probe Sunday’s violence after meeting a team of JNU faculty, students
  • JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar is facing a trust deficit from students and teachers

The students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Thursday during a meeting with Union education secretary Amit Khare said that the removal of the vice-chancellor (V-C) was the only solution to the ongoing crisis. In response, the government said that solving the academic crisis was a priority, and not the removal of the V-C.

“The V-C has lost all trust of students and teachers. He is adamant and his ego is overpowering the betterment of our university. He must go and that’s the solution. We have told this to the secretary on record during our hour-long meeting," said D.K. Lobiyal, the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association, who was part of the JNU team that met ministry officials.

“JNU is a premier institution in India and we would like to ensure that it retains its status as a premier academic and research institution. Wherever required we shall take steps to ensure that normalcy is restored... addressing the academic issues is a priority rather than removing X, Y, Z," Khare said.

However, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union human resource development (HRD) minister Murli Manohar Joshi called for his removal. “It is shocking that the VC is adamant...This attitude is deplorable and in my opinion such a VC should not be allowed to continue on this post," Joshi tweeted.

Vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar is facing a trust deficit from students and teachers and has been criticized for mishandling the students’ protests over the past 75 days against a proposed fee hike and the violence on Sunday evening, in which 35 students and teachers were injured when armed and masked miscreants ran amok inside the campus.

Aishe Ghosh, the president of the JNU Students’ Union, who suffered head injuries in the attack on Sunday evening, said she was hopeful of a solution from the HRD ministry, but reiterated that Kumar should be removed quickly to restore normalcy in the university.

When asked why Kumar was so adamant to not meet students and teachers despite a two-month protest and brutal violence in side the campus, Khare said the ministry has told the university administration to improve communication. Both sides lacked proper communication and better communication could have clarified some issues, he added. The secretary said he will meet the JNU administration and students and teachers in two separate meetings to clarify certain issues related to the fee hike.

Earlier in the day, the demand for the V-C’s removal gained strength with students, teachers and civil society groups marching in central Delhi and staging a rally in front of Shastri Bhawan, part of the central secretariat buildings that houses the HRD ministry. In the evening, police baton charged students, injuring some as they insisted on marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan after meeting HRD ministry officials. The Delhi Police also detained scores of students, who were released later.

Kumar on Thursday appointed a five-member internal panel to probe Sunday’s violence and recommend administrative measures to ensure students’ safety and find out the lapses in security.

“We know the panel was created to divert attention and is full of people who are close to the vice chancellor. When the V-C is facing a trust deficit. What kind of trust will the panel have? We teachers will not meet them," said Surajit Mazumdar, the secretary of the JNUTA, who was among those who met the education secretary on Thursday.

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