Arjun Singh booed, shown black flags in JNU
Mar 31, 2007 - 3:47:30 PM
New Delhi, March 31 - Dozens of students booed and shouted slogans against Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh Saturday at the Jawaharlal Nehru University - for supporting quotas for backward classes in elite educational institutions.
Singh had been invited as the chief guest by the social science department of JNU that was celebrating 150 years of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, popularly known as India's first war of independence.
As soon as the minister went to the podium to deliver his address, nearly 70 students under the Youth for Equality - banner shouted slogans like 'Arjun Singh murdabad' and waved black flags at him.
'We showed him an OBC certificate with his photograph over it. We don't want a minister who divides India on the basis of caste,' said Amit Kumar, a PhD student and coordinator of YFE at JNU.
The chaos lasted for over 30 minutes and interrupted Singh for nearly 20 minutes before he managed to complete his speech.
'Though JNU believes in freedom of speech, Arjun Singh, a votary of inequality, should not come to our university. We interrupted his speech for about 20 minutes and continued with our protest after that as well,' Kumar told IANS.
Holding placards and banners with messages like 'Reservation murdabad', 'Casteism, down, down!' the students demanded that the minister should resign in the wake of Supreme Court's temporary stay on 27 percent quota in higher educational institutions for other backward classes -.
The Supreme Court, disposing of petitions challenging the reservation law, stayed its implementation till August, citing lack of data on the OBC population.
The HRD ministry Friday said there would be no compromise in its commitment to securing social justice for weaker sections and it would go ahead with the implementation of reservation for backward classes in higher educational institutions.
However, the Left-backed JNU students union denounced the development.
'It's a shameful development. We denounce the sloganeering against the HRD minister. We believe reservation for OBC students is a social need and the government is doing right by ensuring it,' said Dhananjay Tripaty, president of the students union.
'We hope the final verdict of the court will go in favour of reservation,' he added.
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