Jawaharlal Nehru University saw another student protest on the afternoon of August 19. Students gathered outside the well-known Ganga Dhaba on campus, in order to prevent it from shutting down. The Estate Officer had issued an eviction notice to Bharat Tomar, the current occupant of the Dhaba, whom they alleged was illegally occupying the space. Around 150 people, including students and teachers were part of the protest, which went on for about three hours.
The protesters moved from Ganga Dhaba to the Administrative Bloc inside the campus, where members of the Students’ Union – Rama Naga and Shehla Rashid – met with the administration to discuss the issue. “In the meeting, the administration said that it is not evicting the Ganga Dhaba today, as no final decision has been taken. But it did not say that it will stop the eviction of the dhaba either,” Rama Naga, the General Secretary of JNU Students’ Union said to YKA.
Those protesting maintained that the notice to the occupant was arbitrary, as no such decision was taking by the Campus Development Committee (CDC) which is responsible for taking the decisions pertaining to dhabas and shops on campus. They were of the opinion that this is a move to shut down the dhaba under the garb of hiring fresh tenants; just like the administration had done in the case of Toufiq’s photocopy shop, near Godavari Dhaba a few months ago. Rama, in his Facebook post explained that the Ganga Dhaba “is not only a place where we go to pass our time, it is a place where we go and review our time about our past, present and future. It’s not simply a dhaba, it is an iconic place of debate”. The stand of the student body was confirmed through his post, in which he voiced the same opinion.
However, the administration maintains a different stand altogether. According to newspaper reports, they are not shutting down the dhaba as they consider it to be a part of “JNU heritage”. “Since the present occupant is illegally occupying the premises, he has been asked to vacate the place so that tendering procedure may be initiated at the earliest,” their official statement said, as per Indian Express. “No move to close Ganga Dabha at JNU. However, all commercial spaces on the campus must adhere to the university regulations,” JNU vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar tweeted yesterday.