Aditya Vaibhav
New Delhi: Agitating JNU students on Friday called off their fast unto death after Delhi High Court ordered a conditional stay on their punishments by the university in connection with the controversial February 9 event. They were on fast for the past 16 days.
“Following the court order, we have decided to call off the strike but our struggle will continue till the Vice Chancellor revokes the punishments completely. We have raised our demands with the administration and wanted to negotiate with them but we were forced to go to the court as the university authorities did not heed to our petitions,” JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said.
JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in February in a sedition case over the event commemorating the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were also allegedly raised.
Videos showing them chanting, “Kashmir ke liye azadi” and “Tum kitney Afzal maroge, har ghar se Afzal niklega” grew viral in social media raising the eyebrows of one and all following which the action was taken by university administration and Delhi cops.
Delhi HC, however, on Friday stayed all disciplinary actions by JNU against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.
The university had announced punishments ranging from rustication to financial penalty based on probe by a five-member committee and the students had gone on hunger strike in protest against the punitive action terming it a one-sided decision in the absence of thorough enquiry. Alleging that the administration had remained was “unfazed” on their demands and deteriorating health conditions, few students including Kanhaiya moved Delhi High Court challenging the action.
The High Court issued directions to JNUSU to withdraw its hunger strike immediately and not indulge in any further agitation and put the decision on hold till the appeals of the students are decided by the appellate authority. The court in its order also said if the appeals of the students were rejected, then the order of appellate authority would not be given effect to at least for a period of two weeks.
The varsity had earlier this week formed a four-member committee to look into demands of agitating students, however, with the students moving the court the administration had appealed the students to call off the strike and wait for the law to take its own course. When the students still refused to call off the fast, the varsity authorities sent letters to the parents of striking students asking them to instruct their wards to end the hunger strike and resort to “constitutional” means to put forward their demands. While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a cash penalty of Rs 10,000, Umar, Anirban and a Kashmiri student, Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varying durations.
Financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students. Hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and the university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.
Saurabh Sharma, who is the lone ABVP member in JNU Students Union and was also the complainant of the February 9 event, has been slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 for blocking traffic.
Though, he has not approached the court, he had gone on hunger strike but called it off after 5 days claiming he has been assured by the VC that his demands will be considered.
Meanwhile, parents of Umar Khalid and former JNUSU General Secretary Chintu Kumari,who were slapped with a fine of Rs 20,000, were in JNU on Friday today to express their solidarity with the agitating students.

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