Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Wednesday said that the university doesn’t impose food choices on students and stressed that they can debate and agitate but should not indulge in violence.
Her comments came days after two groups clashed allegedly over the serving of non-vegetarian food in a hostel mess where a puja had been organised by some students on the Ram Navami festival.
“The university does not impose any food choice on any student. It is one’s personal right and a fundamental right,” she told reporters.
”We have zero tolerance towards violence. Debate, discuss, agitate but students should not indulge in violence,” the VC said.
Ms Pandit also met members of the students’ union and the ABVP on Wednesday.
Recalling her time as a student at the university, she said that there were no religious festivals allowed at that time.
“But in the last 20 years, this has been permitted. It is very difficult to stop that because people are very sensitive towards such things. As long as it is done peacefully, we have no issues. This identity has become very strong nowadays,” she stressed.
The VC also reiterated that a hostel mess is run by the students and the wardens and the administration has nothing to do with them.
“Anything by the administration will be seen as imposition or violation of their right,” she said.
Mr Pandit, who is the first woman vice-chancellor of the university, said that from what she has learnt so far, people from outside the Kaveri hostel were involved in the April 10 attack.
“Ours is an open campus and guests come in. People can enter the campus on a bus and it’s difficult to keep a check.
“From what I have learnt that outsiders from other hostels were involved in the attack. It might have been pre-planned. We have instituted a proctorial inquiry and when the report will come out, we will share the facts,” she said.
At least 20 students were injured in the violence on April 10. The Left-backed student bodies and RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) accused each other of starting the violence.