The Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) has taken a sombre view of Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal’s remarks backing the varsity’s Vice-Chancellor (VC) in the ongoing row, exacerbated following the episode of campus violence on January 5.
“The calls for JNU V-C’s removal now are not reasonable, removing anybody is not the solution,” Pokhriyal had told news agency PTI in an interview on Jan 21.
The statement, however, hasn’t gone down well with the teacher’s body at the JNU, which accused the minister of ignoring the on-campus violence. At least 28 students and faculty members, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union (JNUSU) President Aishe Ghosh, were injured when a masked mob wielding sticks assaulted onlookers on the campus on the evening of January 5.
“Even if one accepts that this meets the basic demand of the students, the leap from that to questioning the legitimacy of the call for the VC’s removal is surprising,” the JNUTA wrote in an open letter to the HRD minister on Thursday.
“Particularly shocking is the fact that you chose to ignore in the process the horrific violence that took place in JNU on 5th January 2020 under the charge of the VC,” said the letter.
The academic further pointed out that the incumbent Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar had been unsuccessful in solving the months-old dispute, after which the HRD ministry had constituted a separate committee to look into the concerns of the students.
May we also remind you that it is your Ministry that constituted way back in 17th November 2019 a High-Power Committee with a view to restoring the normal functioning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University through dialogue with all stakeholders and to advise the university administration for resolution of contentious issues,” JNUTA said in its letter.
“Through this, you acknowledged the inability of the JNU VC to initiate any such dialogue himself,” the letter added.
“The MHRD effectively reiterated the same understanding when it had to step in once again to initiate the process of discussions on 10th and 11th December 2019,” it added.
The teachers further warned that the international reputation of JNU had taken a hit following the episode of Jan 5, cautioning that the continuation of Kumar in his position was sending more wrong signals internationally.
“As far as teachers of the University are concerned, this defence of the JNU VC sends a message that is far from reassuring – that they should be prepared to face more of the terror they and their families were subjected to on Jan,” said the letter.