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24 Jun 2007


24 June 2007


PUDR condemns the decision of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to
declare 8 students out of bounds of the campus, rusticate 7 of them
for 1-2 years, and fine the three office-bearers of JNUSU. The
administration's action against these 11 students – in response to a
number of students gheraoing the Registrar on 19 February 2007 – is
completely out of proportion and is all the more condemnable because
the students had tendered individual apologies in writing.
The university's action has pushed to the background the context for
the student agitation: the mistreatment and exploitation of contract
workers in JNU for many years. A PUDR investigation and earlier
surveys by student groups highlighted the widespread non-payment of
statutory minimum wages on JNU campus. It was when the administration
refused to look into the matter, began demanding that the students
stop the agitation and tore posters put up by the students that
highlighted this non-payment of minimum wages, and violations by the
administration of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act,
1970 and other laws, that students gheraoed the Registrar.
The punishment meted out to the students is in sharp contest to the
prevarication by the JNU administration, in its capacity as their
'principal employer', over the issue of exploitation of contract
workers. Making the "illegal confinement" of the Registrar a bigger
issue than the violation of the rights of hundreds of contract workers
is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the question of
minimum wages and working conditions in JNU. The punishment meted out
to these 11 students also seeks to target the tradition of radical
student political activity and dissent in JNU, The university that
claims to promote scientific temper and social engagement is punishing
them for precisely living up to their social responsibility.
PUDR therefore demands that the Vice-Chancellor of JNU withdraw the
rustication order and instead of penalising the students, hold an
independent inquiry into the violation by JNU of its statutory
obligations towards contract labour employed by them in their capacity
as the 'principal employer'.

Shashi Saxena
(Secretary, PUDR)