JNU students allege non-disbursement of scholarships; protests erupt on campus

On August 25, ABVP members met the UGC Chairman and submitted an application asking for information on the scholarship disbursement 
File photo of JNU | (Pic: Express)
File photo of JNU | (Pic: Express)

The members of ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) allege that funds have not been allocated for Non-NET and other fellowships in the university. Protest regarding the issue led to violence on campus on August 22. Here’s the latest development: Yesterday evening, August 25, ABVP members met the Chairman of the UGC (University Grants Commission) and submitted an application asking for information on the scholarship disbursement. The application has been shared with EdexLive.

In response, the UGC shared the details of the amount of funds sent to JNU in the current financial year, from April to August 2022. But students allege that they have not even received last year’s Non-NET fellowships. “The delay is due to mismanagement by the JNU administration. The Vice-Chancellor and Rector are to blame. The Rector is even running an NGO on the university funds. And students are suffering,” said Ambuj Mishra, a member of ABVP JNU.

From the UGC transaction slip shared with EdexLive by ABVP, it is mentioned that the UGC has allocated Rs 538.36 lakh to JNU. And the university has reported an expenditure of Rs 78.05 lakh on Non-NET fellowships. Students, however, say that the university is not speaking the truth and the fellows have not received any stipend.

Here's what happened
“On August 22, ABVP, along with some common students, went to the Scholarship Section of Arts Block to enquire about the issue. The staff misbehaved with us,” says Ambuj. He alleged that it was the staff who scattered the files of students and broke the windows and that it wasn’t the students who did it. He also said that the administration called up four ambulances even before the scuffle between the staff and students started, and then sent about 50 guards to beat the students.

However, members of AISA (All India Students’ Association) at JNU feel otherwise. They blamed ABVP for the violence that ensued. On the night of August 24, AISA held a protest march along with other students and organisations against the violence. They marched from Ganga to Sabarmati Dhaba in the campus. The members state that they had been campaigning against the violence since it happened.

“ABVP members have resorted to violence again and again on the campus. We condemn this,” said Madhurima Kundu, Secretary of AISA JNU. She states that AISA demanded the issuance of the scholarships with this march. She also alleged that the former VC of JNU, Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, the now UGC Chairman, has diluted the institution by appointing people close to him in the varsity. “This has led to incompetency in the administration. And we demand that a stop be put to this,” she said.

On the same night that AISA held the protest march, ABVP also held a protest at their Satyagraha Sthal at the Main Gate. Ambuj said that students had been holding a silent demonstration there since August 23. In a press release, the members shared that they held another protest at the JNU convention centre. 

There was an effigy burning protest as well, in which an effigy representing the JNU Administration and Rector was burnt. The ABVP members also met Minister Jitendra Kumar and JNU VC on August 23 and submitted a memorandum on the violence of August 22, in which many students sustained injuries.

The ABVP press release states that apart from the Non-NET fellows, other research scholars like the recipients of MCM (Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship) have also not received their stipends at JNU. Meanwhile, on August 22, the JNU administration brought out a press release on the violent incident after it occurred, and assured that it would look into the incident and take action against the guilty. However, no action has been taken as of now.

The developments
On August 24, staff members came to the ABVP’s protest site at the main gate and assured them that the scholarships would be disbursed on time, Ambuj said. “But we did not want verbal assurance. We wanted them to give it in writing. And we have demanded that an online single window portal should be opened by the administration for Non-NET, MCM and other sponsored scholarships so that it becomes a hassle-free and quick process,” he added.

ABVP members have been sitting in protest at their Satyagraha Sthal for 15 days now, demanding the funds for scholarships and as well as for the renovation of hostels. They say that the hostels on campus are in dire condition, needing immediate repairs. On the evening of August 25, the members of the JNUTF (JNU Teachers' Forum) joined them in their protests.

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