New Delhi: Minister of Human resource development Ramesh Pokhriyal was trapped inside the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) campus for over six hours after the main gate was blocked by JNU students protesting against a hike in hostel fee.
Pokhriyal had been invited as guest of honour to JNU’s third convocation ceremony.
Alleging that the vice-chancellor had refused to meet them, the students, led by the JNU Students’ Union, raised the slogan: ‘No convocation without affordable education.’
The main point of protest is the introduction of service charges — for maintenance, mess workers, cook and sanitation — which were so far not included in the hostel fee. Under the new hostel charges, students have to pay an approximate service charge of Rs. 1,700 per month. Rent for a single room has been increased from Rs. 20 per month to Rs. 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs. 10 per month to Rs. 300 per month. Students will also have to pay utility charges, which they did not have to so far.
During the course of the protest outside the venue, which began shortly before noon, police tried several means to move students away from the gate, including the use of a water cannon which was deployed around 1:30 pm.
As more than 400 students assembled at the West Gate of the university campus, closest to AICTE, in the morning, they found that the gate was barricaded. “There were five layers of barricades, so we re-routed and moved towards the main North gate. The barricading there was light — they had either just started putting them up or had kept it light to allow some movement. We broke through that and marched towards the venue,” said Paro Tomar, a Master’s student.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu was the chief guest of the event. However, he left the event, which began at 9:30 am, before students reached the venue. (Input: Agencies)