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Panel headed by retired HC judge should probe students’ clash: JNUSU

The Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union (JNUSU) on Tuesday demanded that the university should constitute a panel headed by a retired High Court judge to probe the clash between two groups of students on April 10. The JNUSU also asked the university to withdraw its statement issued on April 11 in which it said the clashes broke out after some students objected to a ‘hawan’ conducted “peacefully” on Ram Navami, an assertion also made by the RSS-affiliated ABVP.

At least 20 students were injured after clashes broke out between two groups on April 10 allegedly over serving of non-vegetarian food at the Kaveri Hostel mess.

A delegation of the students’ union also tried to meet JNU vice-chancellor Shantishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Tuesday regarding their demands but could not do so.

The security guards asked the students to submit a letter to get an appointment with the VC, union members said.

The union noted that the violence at Kaveri Hostel has its beginnings in the arbitrary demand of prohibition of non-vegetarian meals at the hostel mess by a group of students, and said this it has been corroborated by the relevant hostel as well as mess committee members.

“However, the same students who raised this demand and violently disrupted the functioning of the mess, and who are also associated with the ABVP have resorted to spreading a narrative of disruption of ‘hawan’ in the hostel premises, a claim that is neither supported by the hostel or mess committee,” the student’s union said in a statement.

The Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad had earlier said the puja organised on Ram Navami started at 5 PM and simultaneously, Iftar was also taking place

However, the JNUSU said, “The Iftar was held at 6.45 pm and not 5 PM.”

The students’ union said it is “extremely shameful” that the press statement released by the JNU administration on Monday endorsed the version by ABVP without conducting any official enquiry.

“Such partisan support of a single narrative is unbecoming of a university administration and therefore we demand that the the press statement released by the JNU administration on April 11 be rescinded forthwith,” the statement said.

The students’ body demanded that the JNU administration take swift action on the issue and take a view in a “free and fair manner”.

“However, it is with extreme regret that we must note that the actions of the JNU administration have either fallen short of expectations of the student community or been partisan in nature,” they said.

Noting that there are justified doubts regarding the competency of an internal enquiry in the matter, the students’ union demanded that the JNU administration either pursues conducting judicial inquiry or constitute a committee with a serving or retired judge of the High Court as the chair to investigate the matter.

“The committee should give a call to collect all testimonies and evidence, meet with the aggrieved parties, and release the report and recommendations to the public in a time-bound manner. It has been increasingly observed that the prevalence of politically-motivated violence in the campus is becoming a norm rather than the exception,” the JNUSU statement noted.

The union said for the campus to maintain its peace, the JNU administration must be prepared to take action according to the rules and ordinances of the university.

“Further the JNU administration must hold dialogue with all stakeholders, including the elected representatives of the student and teacher community, to resolve the issue,” they said.

All India Students’ Association (AISA) national president N Sai Balaji said they had also come to the vice-chancellor office at 2 pm but there was no one to meet them.

“The VC always says that they’re open for dialogue. The VC who is supposed to address the problems of the students, is missing in action,” he said.

Balaji said they want an independent judicial enquiry into the violence by ABVP.

“The administration has completely failed in its effort to stall the violence. Even in the previous incidents, the ABVP perpetrators were always shielded. Yesterday, JNU admin released two notes – one for the internal consumption (students) and the other for external (public).

“The notes were nothing but a replica of the ABVP press release. We demand administration to take back the press releases, bring out the facts and take action against ABVP students,” he said.

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