JNU: Water cannons used against India students protesting fee hike

Image caption,
Students are protesting a fee hike in one of India's most prestigious universities

Thousands of students at one of India's most prestigious universities have clashed with police, amid massive protests over a hostel fee hike.

Police used water canons against students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) after they broke through barricades and surged forward.

They had gathered outside an auditorium in the capital Delhi where a graduation ceremony was taking place on Monday.

Students have been protesting against a proposed 150% fee hike for two weeks.

They told the BBC that they were left with no other choice than to demonstrate outside the event, which was attended by India's vice-president and a federal minister.

"Nobody from the administration is talking to us. We have repeatedly asked officials to meet. We even went to their offices several times, but they didn't bother to meet us," one student told BBC Hindi's Vineet Khare.

Another said they came to the auditorium as they knew the vice-chancellor was likely to be there.

Image source, ANI
Image caption,
Police used water cannons as students broke barricades

"The protests will continue until our demands are met. We are not taking this stand because we are stubborn but because there are many students here who cannot afford to pay this fee," another said.

Students have also alleged excessive force by the police, saying that women were manhandled and questioned the need to deploy water cannons.

Police have not yet issued any statements, but media reports say that additional personnel have been deployed to the university.

University officials have defended the proposed fee increase by arguing it is currently "far too subsidised". At 2,000 rupees ($28; £22) per month, it is a lot cheaper than many private institutions, but students argue that this has made it possible for those from underprivileged and rural backgrounds to study there.

'Students allege force'

Vineet Khare, BBC News Delhi

It felt in the beginning like things could get messier: hundreds of angry students had gathered outside the gate of the venue of the graduation ceremony in south Delhi and were demanding a meeting with the vice-chancellor who they alleged had been avoiding them.

A banner said "cheap education is everyone's right".

They clashed with dozens of security men armed with sticks, who had been called in and for hours tried hard to push them back.

One of the students showed me a wound on his leg which he alleged was the result of a police beating. Several female students alleged they had been manhandled.

Students were also livid at the large amount of security which had been deployed, and shouted "shame, shame" as officers asked them to step back.

Meanwhile, police officers at the protest refused to respond to interview requests.

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