Make tea, stir some great discussion and, before leaving, make sure you have washed your glasses/cups. This is how JNU’s unconventional tea shop works – a shop that lights up the campus between 11 pm and 2 am.
Known as the ‘guerrilla dhaba’, this tea joint on JNU campus has no owner but is managed by volunteer students, who had harbored on the idea of establishing this one-of-a-kind joint as a mark of protest against administration’s decision to shut down all the canteens after 11 pm, citing “security reasons”.
Enforced by the Campus Development Committee, in June, the decision to shut down canteens was opposed by many students organisations as they considered it a threat to the University’s inherent night culture.
To register a silent protest against this decision, the then head of JNU Student’s Union, Mohit Kumar Pandey, had organized a “tea protest”.
Known as the ‘guerrilla dhaba’, this small tea-shop – with no roof, no seating and only a footpath leading to the meeting place – has brought back the essential vibrancy to the campus for which JNU is known for. The ‘dhaba’ is also helping girl students in providing security for those who feel uneasy walking down the deserted roads of the campus at night.
According to Swati Simha, one of the coordinators of the dhaba:
Women were not feeling safe on campus. Some women were stalked on deserted roads. Ever since the dhaba was started, there are always 30 to 40 students near the T-point, making the campus more lively and safe.”
She further said that the administration’s recent decision to do away with the varsity’s sexual harassment unit – GSCASH – was another reason for starting this night tea joint.
Many students have now found a new platform for their late night discussions and debates over piping hot cups of tea – which are priced at Rs 5 each. Students have also vouched to voluntarily run the establishment on a rotational basis, located near the main library.
Reina Gattuso, another coordinator and an MA student at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, said:
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Ever since the new VC took over, there has been much pressure from the administration to curtail the democratic culture of the campus.Advertisement
There is a threat to student politics, freedom of mobility and socializing. We wanted to counter all these attempts through this facility.
It is to be noted that last month JNUSU had given a mandate to the election committee of the disbanded the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) to conduct elections, despite resistance from the administration.