Published: 06th November 2019
JNU Dean accuses students of blackmailing Provosts to resign as protests on campus mount
The administration's notice goes on to allege that the students on strike have blackmailed the Provosts to sign on the dotted lines of pre-drafted papers of resignation or rejection
Following the hullabaloo surrounding the continuous strike at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the varsity administration on Wednesday issued an official notice, signed by the Acting Dean of Students Dr Vandana Mishra, stating that the actions taken by the students are “illegal, immoral and has brought a bad name to the university.”
However, what comes as a surprise is that the notice from the office of the Dean of Students says that the students have coerced the Provosts into siding with them. “This is to inform all concerned that the JNU students on strike have forcibly made three Provosts resign from their office on a pre-drafted document and made two provosts reject the proposed hostel manual issued by the IHA,” read the notice. While according to the signed letters and what the students are saying, the count shows that two Provosts resigned and three rejected the draft hostel manual.
The administration's notice goes on to allege that the students on strike have blackmailed the Provosts to sign on the dotted lines of pre-drafted papers of resignation or rejection. “It is hereby notified that none of the Provosts have actually resigned and none of them have rejected the proposed hostel manual. By confining the Provosts, who he visited hostels to discuss students’ concerns related to the proposed hostel manual, shouting offensive slogans, and blackmailing them to sign on the dotted line of pre-drafted papers of resignation/rejection, the concerned students have done something illegal, immoral and brought bad name to the university. The entire JNU community is thus informed not to believe the social media postings of papers carrying signatures of Provosts,” the notice states.
The notice came in response to the fact that the Provosts, who look after the affairs of their respective Khands or group of hostels and advise Wardens on matters concerning their functions, have either resigned or rejected the draft hostel manual, according to the students, led by the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU).
After two Provosts resigned from their posts in quick succession, the Provost of Paschimabad-II Khand, Dr Shakti Kumar, Paschimabad-I Khand, Dr Neerja Samajdar and THE Provost of the Dakshinapuram Khand, Dr Bhaswati Das, rejected the Draft Hostel Manual after the students reportedly presented them with an option to resign or reject the manual post-discussion. Providing proof of the incidents, the JNUSU also circulated a copy of the signed letters across social media platforms.
The students are calling the Dean out on his notice. “They clearly have the wrong information. They are in a hurry to issue statements so they often make errors. They're desperate to delegitimse students,” says Apeksha Priyadarshini, a BASO member, commenting on the notice. The former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji also agrees saying, “The signatures are there to see. If the administration doesn’t want to accept it to save face thats different.”
“We have not pressurised any of the officials to sign the letters. They listened to us, we had a discussion and then they felt a moral obligation to do what they did. They had not read the Draft Hostel Manual when they signed. They did not know about half of the clauses and sections we had an issue with. They told us they had signed because the administration asked them to sign. It is also not humanly possible to read a 140-page document in just 10 minutes — which is how long the IHA meeting lasted. So the administration should be asked why they are pressurising the staff to sign documents without reading them even once,” explains Saket Moon, the current JNUSU Vice President.
The students had presented the Provosts and the wardens with a list of 12 concerns and objects they had regarding the draft manual earlier. The students had also issued an ultimatum, that expired at 12 pm on Monday, to the university administration to respond to their demands about various issues including a proposed hostel fee hike, electricity charges and mainly demanding the revocation of the 'regressive' draft hostel manual. The protest would enter its tenth day on Thursday. However, Saket reassured that the classes are still being held. “The protest has been going on for more than a week and regular classes are being hampered even though teachers are conducting classes in open spaces across the or in union rooms. This is a ploy of the administration to degrade JNU and make it lose its position as a premiere educational institution. We will not let that happen. We will continue the protest but will find a way so that classes can go on regularly as scheduled," added the Vice President.
The administration could not be reached to comment on the issue.