Thousands of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and teachers of the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) organized a protest demonstration from the university campus gate to Parliament on March 23, 2018.
They were protesting against the requirement of compulsory attendance imposed upon them recently by the authorities and the steps of the government aimed at privatization of university education. They were demanding immediate arrest and suspension of a professor, who has been accused of sexual harassment of women students. Their other demands included immediate withdrawal of notifications replacing chairpersons of various departments, who were opposed to implementing the compulsory attendance rule. The JNUTA is also demanding withdrawal of the executive council decision on constitution of a committee to take action against individual teachers.
Students and teachers of Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia University and Ambedkar University also joined the protest.
The protest demonstration was stopped by the Delhi police, near INA Market in South Delhi. Protestors, many of them young women, were brutally lathi-charged and physically attacked by the police. Water cannons were used against them. Their clothes were torn off. Many of them were injured. Journalists attempting to cover the protest were molested and beaten, their cameras confiscated, etc. 23 students were arrested by the police and detained for several hours, till late in the evening.
Earlier on March 19, the students of JNU had protested at the Vasant Kunj police station, demanding action against the professor accused of sexual harassment. On that occasion too, they were attacked by the police. The JNUTA had earlier launched a three-day 'Satyagraha' inside the campus to raise these demands.
Speaking to correspondents of MEL, the protesting students and teachers of JNU explained that that the recent decision of the central government to give autonomy to JNU and other universities, to start self-financing courses and decide their own course and fee structure, is being widely opposed by the students and teachers, as a move towards privatization of higher education, which will push higher education out of reach for vast sections of the youth.
They also explained that they were opposing the requirement of compulsory attendance because they feel that JNU is primarily a post graduate institution, in which the research work requires students to travel to various places. Research students often teach at JNU and other central universities. All this makes it impossible for them to fulfill the criterion of compulsory attendance. They pointed out that notifications have been issued by the administration, victimizing chairpersons of departments and other teachers who disagree with the compulsory attendance rule. They highlighted other attempts by the university authorities to victimize teachers and students who question the decisions of the administration.
The Communist Ghadar Party severely condemns the brutal police violence against the students and teachers agitating for their entirely just demands.