JNU march turns violent as students, teachers clash with police

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New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Police on Friday used water-cannon guns and batons to stop a march to Parliament by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students and teachers, demanding the arrest of a professor accused of sexual harassment and protesting the privatisation of education and compulsory attendance rules.

The rally of around 500 students and teachers from the JNU campus was halted near INA Market in south Delhi where barricades were created to stop the protestors from marching ahead.

Police said the protestors didn’t have permission to take out the demonstration and were asked to return to the campus.

However, they didn’t relent and started storming the barricades, a police officer said, adding the police then used batons and water cannons to disperse the protestors.

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“Several people were injured in police action,” the officer said.

The JNU Students Union which had called for the march alleged that some women students were manhandled by police and their clothes were even torn.

Congress MP Sushmita Dev and CPI-M leader Brinda Karat also joined the protesting teachers and students.

“We are supporting the movement, be it sexual harassment case or educative reforms. The authorities don’t understand that attendance cannot be a parameter to judge a scholar or a researcher’s academic capabilities,” Dev said.

Brinda Karat said it was “shameful” for JNU Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar was supporting an accused in sexual harassment cases “who has got eight complaints against him”.

“The students took to streets because they got no justice from the university,” Karat said.

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The university teachers and students have been protesting for the past many days over several issues and have been demanding the removal of the accused professor.

The professor was arrested on Tuesday but was released on bail hours later. He has claimed innocence, alleging that complaints against him was a political conspiracy to tarnish his image.

On Monday, the students clashed with the cops near Vasant Kunj police station. They have refused to attend classes until action was taken against Professor Atul Johri of the Department of Life Sciences.

The teachers are also protesting against the removal of several department heads and a coordinator for not complying with the university’s new attendance rules. A number of them are on a hunger strike.

The association said the university’s administration has not reached out to the faculty members who have been on the hunger strike for the past three days.

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They have demanded immediate withdrawal of notifications replacing chairpersons who were opposed to implementing compulsory attendance.

–IANS

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