Walkout VC gets shirty | JNU students dismiss rough-up allegation

New Delhi, May 10: JNU vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar’s today “abruptly” ended an academic council meeting after being forced to allow a discussion on the 13-day-old hunger strike, with the administration accusing students of pulling his shirt as he was walking out.

Students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar has denied the charge.

“When the vice-chancellor proceeded towards his office from the venue, some students attempted to surround him by forming a human chain and prevent him from moving forward,” a statement from university PRO Poonam Kudaisya alleged.

“Some students literally pulled his shirt and tried to pin him down. However, the vice-chancellor, with the help of security staff, managed to reach his office. We appeal to the JNU community to use peaceful means to resolve the issue rather than resorting to violent methods.”

As the meeting began at 2.30pm, students including the eight still on hunger strike chanted slogans outside.

Three of the council’s four student members – Kanhaiya, students’ union vice-president Shehla Rashid and general secretary Rama Naga – insisted the strike be discussed urgently. Several deans and chairpersons of the university’s academic centres backed the students’ stand.

The VC allowed the discussion, which went on for around an hour, but gave no commitments, a dean who was present told The Telegraph. Kumar, he said, then abruptly adjourned the meeting and strode off around 4.15pm.

Shehla followed him out saying: “Sir, you cannot leave. The blood of anyone who may die in the strike is on your hands.”

Escorted by about a dozen guards, Kumar left with chairperson Amita Singh of the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance and the controller of examinations, Colonel Hanuman Sharma. But they walked into a protest by over 200 students outside.

Kumar broke out into a jog, heading for the administrative block 250 metres away, across a garden flanked by students holding hands and shouting: ” Bhagoda VC waapas aao (Absconding VC come back).”

After the VC and the guards reached the administrative block, the students continued sloganeering outside the glass doors, covering them with gamchhas or scarves when the guards began video-recording them from behind the doors.

Kanhaiya denied that Kumar had been manhandled or had his shirt pulled. “The VC has been video-graphed being escorted by a dozen security officers while students were peacefully singing songs and raising slogans,” he said.

“He should be thankful that JNU-ites are democratic people, else they would have pulled his neck.”

The students have been demanding revocation of the punishments awarded to 19 students over a February 9 event commemorating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on the campus.

Shehla and Rama had initially been stopped from entering today’s meeting as they were carrying fruits they meant to offer the VC on behalf of the strikers.

Shehla cut her foot on a glass shard during a scuffle with security guards. The students were eventually allowed to enter with the fruits, which Rama presented to Kumar.

The dean who spoke to this newspaper said the fourth student member, students’ union joint secretary Saurabh Sharma of the ABVP, “called us teachers Pakistani agents for supporting the strikers”.

Saurabh said: “I told the professors they had supported anti-national activities like ‘Pakistan zindabad‘ slogans.”


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