In a move that is going to start a lot of protests among students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the JNU administration has issued a notice stating that they have not notified the previous year's and this year's JNUSU because they have not complied with the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations. As a result, they have asked them to vacate the JNUSU office by 5 pm today and stated that they would double lock the room.
"To prevent the misuse of University property, it is decided by the Competent Authority of the University that the said room shall be locked immediately and the same may be handed over to the JNUSU after notification of the same," the administration said in their notice, signed by Umesh Ashok Kadam, the Dean of Students.
Understandably, the JNUSU is furious. It may be recalled that the JNUSU elections this year were mired in controversy and delay after two candidates went to the Delhi High Court to get the elections stopped — as a result of which the results were delayed from being announced for a week, after which the High Court said that they didn't see any pertinent reason for the elections result not to be upheld, or published.
The judge had asked JNU to notify the election results as long as they were in accordance with the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines and with approval from the Grievance Redressal Committee. Incidentally, Umesh Kadam, who issued the notice, is also the Chairperson of the Grievance Redressal Committee. There had been a few run-ins between the students and the GRC in the lead-up to the JNUSU results being announced — over notices being sent to students in the dead of night and not being allowed to bring representation to the inquiry.
In response, the JNUSU has called for a protest outside their Union office at 3.30 pm on Wednesday. They have said that they will physically oppose any move to evict them.
The current elected JNUSU said in their statement that they would like to 'remind the administration that the JNUSU office is not the personal property of the Dean to allot'. "It is a symbol of the JNU Student Community’s Right to Representation and Unionises, that is entrusted to the JNUSU," the Union said. They have also said that it was according to the judgement of the Delhi High Court have recognised that the JNUSU was elected by the students and legitimized by them.
"However, the most atrocious section of the said notice cites ‘misuse of University property’ to inform the student community that the JNUSU Office shall be double locked and sealed by 5 pm. This statement is completely unacceptable, and the JNUSU unequivocally states that it shall not be accepted under any condition," the JNUSU said.
The Union also argued that democratic spaces on campus were being snatched away from them one after another, "Be it our Dhabas, or the Mess Halls that are currently only allotted to the VC’s political front on campus. The JNUSU office has become one of the last spaces where we can organize our meetings and discussions. Therefore, it is imperative that we, the JNU Student Community, unite and resist these authoritarian measures completely," they added.
The All India Students Association has also issued a statement in this regard and compared the locking of the Union's office to the Parliament being locked, "Imagine if somebody locks the parliament, it’s not just the elected representatives, but the entire nation whose rights will be taken away, similarly, by locking Union office the attack is not only on the office-bearers but on student’s right by denying their mandate."
They also questioned the administration's decision to not take Rs 15 as Union fee from the students this year and cites that as a sign to curb student rights on campus, "The administration was clear from day one to destroy students' rights and voice. Be it the agenda of disrupting and interfering in JNUSU electoral process, getting election results stayed, not letting the union function, not calling them for statutorily mandated committees and now wants to lock 8,500 students' voice. All these measures were on their list for a long time."
Comparing it to other similar happenings in other parts of the country, the AISA invoked the examples of AMU election results being withheld, Student Union being dissolved at Allahabad University Union, "The denial of the rights and legitimacy of student unions is happening all over the country and here also in JNU the mandate of students and their voices are being locked down," they added.