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JNU attendance row: Students refuse to let staff exit campus, professors call it 'illegal confinement'

JNU students have been protesting against the administration's decision to make 75 percent attendance compulsory at the varsity. 

JNU attendance row: Students refuse to let staff exit campus, professors call it 'illegal confinement'

NEW DELHI: Jawaharlal Nehru University is in the limelight yet again for the wrong reasons. The students at the JNU are up in arms against Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar's decision to make 75 percent attendance compulsory at the varsity. Students on Thursday gheraoed the campus and stopped Rectors Chintamani Mahapatra and Rana Pratap Singh and other staff members from leaving the building.

A human chain was formed by students around the building, skits and mimes were performed through the day near the main entrance of the administration block to mark their protest against the administrative decision. Security guards had to be deployed to block the students from entering the building.  

The students have been demanding the revocation of the decision to have compulsory 75 percent attendance in an academic year to availing scholarships and fellowships.

While staff members claim that students had confined a few professors and abused them, the students, led by JNU Students Union, refuted the charges. "We demand to meet the JNU VC. We have been waiting to meet him since the morning. We have not blocked any gate, we are only waiting for him. We demand the circular over mandatory attendance be taken back and call a meeting of the academic council," Geeta, All India Students Association said.

The JNUSU said there had been no call to lay siege to the administration building. "All administrative works have been going on without any obstruction," JNUSU joint secretary Shubhanshu Singh said, adding the gherao would continue till the vice chancellor met the students.

Calling the gherao an "illegal confinement", a group of professors sat on a dharna after they were not allowed to go in to let their colleagues out. The students raised slogans against the professors.

Defending the decision of compulsory attendance Chief Proctor Kaushal Kumar said that they are merely following UGC guidelines, not JNU guidelines. "Students have all the right to protest as they feel it is injustice according to them. Ask anyone about compulsory attendance, they will say it is needed," the Chief Proctor, who was gheraoed for nearly two hours,  said.

He also said that the decision was passed by a majority in the Academic Council. "Though it was not mentioned in the agenda, one of the centres brought up the issue in the Academic Council and the VC said it must be implemented. The JNU works according to statutes and ordinances," he said.