News ID: 261765
Published: 0208 GMT November 18, 2019

Indian police round up 50 students amid fee protests

Indian police round up 50 students amid fee protests

Indian police briefly detained more than four dozen students Monday in the capital New Delhi as protests against proposed fee hikes at a public university entered the second week.

Law enforcement officers erected barricades around the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where at least 50 people were arrests during a march by hundreds of students who demand the rollback of the hike in annual fees.

Many at the university accuse the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of curbing free speech.

Shivraj Jagtap, a languages student, said the university costs would be roughly tripled, reaching 12,000 rupees ($167) per month for some.

Kushal, another languages student who identified himself only by his first name, said many would be unable to finish their studies if the proposed raises went through. “This isn't just about JNU, we need to reject fee hikes at all government universities.”

According to the JNU Students Union, about half the university's students come from families with incomes of less than 144,000 rupees ($2,018.22) annually. That means many students from poor and low-income families would not be able to afford the new costs, the union says.

The students are also protesting against what they say are "regressive" hostel rules on clothing and timings and are demanding that the vice chancellor be sacked.

"The vice chancellor isn't meeting us," said Abhimanyu, a PhD student at JNU. "The administration hasn't spoken to us even once."

Students were refusing to leave until the detainees were released.

University authorities have yet to comment on the recent episode.

Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar has urged the students to return to classes ahead of the exams.

The protests began at JNU a week ago, with some students injured when police fired water cannons to disperse them.

Students at other Indian universities have expressed solidarity with JNU colleagues, though the protests have not spread.

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