Education

Students, Teachers Allege Physical Aggression, Autocratic Behaviour at JNU Meeting

“Most members present were not allowed give their opinions on any of the agenda items and these were summarily announced as passed by the VC,” the teachers’ association has said in a statement.

A view of the JNU campus. Credit: PTI

A view of the JNU campus. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A section of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) teachers and students alleged that they were “manhandled” and “heckled” by some professors at the academic council meeting on Friday (June 16).

“When students and teachers questioned the way all the agendas were being passed without discussion and debate, some stooges of the administration started chasing and heckling the student representatives,” JNU students’ union (JNUSU) president Mohit Kumar Pandey alleged.

There was no space for deliberation and reasoned debates at the meeting. Vice chancellor Jagadesh Kumar cleared one agenda item after another without even registering dissent, he said.

“Professors Atul Kumar Johri and Ashwani Kumar Mohapatra physically heckled JNUSU joint secretary Tabrez Hassan and held him by his collar. Similarly, other student representatives were shouted down and threatened,” the JNUSU alleged in a press release.

The JNUSU claimed that Johri was not a member of the academic council, but he attended the meeting. Mohapatra, however, rejected the allegations as “baseless”.

“It is unethical and illegal to video-record the AC meeting. The allegations of students are baseless. I tried to stop them from taking my pictures as they were taking it every time when I stood up to speak. The students were trying to obstruct the meeting. So we demanded the VC take disciplinary action against the students or I will stay away from attending the meetings,” he said.

The 143rd academic council meeting was convened on Friday after it was adjourned on May 9, amid wide opposition for holding the meeting during summer vacations. It is learnt that the VC concluded the 143rd AC meeting after declaring all the agendas as passed.

JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA) president Ayesha Kidwai termed the meeting as “farce”. In a statement, JNUTA said:

“The 143 AC meeting was an extraordinary exercise in autocratic disrespectful behaviour by the Chair and Secretary. Most members present were not allowed give their opinions on any of the agenda items and these were summarily announced as passed by the VC. On matters relating to admissions and selection committees, discussion was prevented saying that the matters are sub judice and members ‘objections that these items should not in that case be approved or acted upon rejected. Repeated requests for the formal recording of dissent were always rejected and motions to record members opinions/dissent on various items, each signed by over 30 members, were rejected on that grounds that each individual should separately submit a motion/note of dissent. No rule was cited to support this decision. After this several members submitted notes of dissent, which the registrar refused to give receipts for.

A final serious matter relates to the fact that the previous meeting of the143rd AC was video recorded by the administration without seeking consent from each member. A copy of the recording was sought by the JNUTA President and an assurance was given that it would be made available, but has not yet been. This adjourned meeting was not recorded. However, when some ‘Special Invitees’ of the VC started being physically aggressive towards faculty members who were voicing objections to the gross misconduct of the proceedings, some others, including JNUSU members, legitimately captured this aggression on their phones. This was termed unacceptable by and censured by the VC, whose administration routinely records students and teachers without their permission and misuses these at meetings of statutory bodies. Given that the VC had promised in the May 9 meeting to upload the whole video on the web, any censure of members for recording the evidence of these outrageous proceedings is unacceptable.

This meeting comes as the crowning glory of this VC’s misrule, but the only thing he has covered himself is in utter ignominy.”

Meanwhile, a large section of students protested outside the venue of the meeting, reiterating their demand for amendments in minutes of the 142nd meeting which brought in seat cuts for MPhil and PhD courses.

PTI was unable to reach the JNU VC for comments.

(With PTI inputs)