The gate number 7 of Jamia Millia Islamia seems quite busy these days with over a hundred women students studying Applied Art from the Faculty of Fine Arts, who have gathered at the gate to protest against a professor since January 31.
The women are alleging that the Head of Department (HoD), Hafeez Ahmed has been misbehaving with female students and passing lewd comments. The students have also alleged that they have been facing irregularities in marks distribution based on favouritism. Another allegation levelled on the professor is that of labelling Kashmiri students as terrorist.
In the past too students have written to the Dean of Students' Welfare (DSW) and concerned officials but till date the university administration has not taken any action against him. The protesting students are demanding immediate suspension of the HoD, a safe campus and open marking system like other departments.
Farah, a second-year student of Fine Arts while speaking with NewsClick said, "We are not here to gain any mileage from this protest. We are Fine Arts students and our demands are very genuine. We do not have qualified permanent teachers. The HoD is the only one who is a permanent faculty in the Applied Art department. There was a guest faculty who left as he was not comfortable with our HoD’s dictatorial behaviour.”
Discrepancies in Marks Distribution
Pointing out the discrepancies in the distribution in marks, she said, “There are several poor students who are unable to arrange their fees on time. They cannot even buy enough stationery but they are not given the marks that they deserve. We are all facing unfair marking. In India, there are very few prestigious colleges who offer Fine Arts, Jamia being one of them. But our department has totally failed all of us who have come here from across the country. On top of that, we are not even allowed to stay back in the campus after 5 p.m.”
She further added, “Our course is mostly based on practical work, which we have to submit to the HoD in a sealed envelope. However, we get our grades without even opening the seal. How is that possible?”
Lewd Comments on Female Students
Another student named Suchitra Rathore accused Hafeez Ahmed of sexual harassment and passing lewd comments. She told NewsClick about an incident from the previous year when there was a painting week in their department and he had given an assignment. At the time of submission when the student told him that she had not been able to attend college due to severe cervical pain, he allegedly replied in a mocking tone, “How can you be a patient of cervical pain at such a young age? Why don’t you come early to the department where I can teach you yoga and you will feel better? Ye jo dard hai ye raat me 3 baje jagne ki wajah se ho raha hai. Aap apne aap se pyar nahi karti hain kisi aur se karti hain (This pain that you are having is due to waking up at 3 in the night. It seems that you do not love yourself but someone else).”
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She also added that the professor has allegedly asked his female students to be well-dressed and use perfume so as to appear attractive to others. Expressing her discomfort, she said, “In our course, we have to work with a lot of concentration, however, in this environment, it is impossible for us.”
Rathore added, "We demand a safe campus for female students and a fair marking system. Graphics is one of our main subjects, but unfortunately we do not have a teacher who can even point us our drawbacks."
Yunus Nomani, who was busy making placards in the middle of the protest told NewsClick, “Recently, I went to his chamber to seek permission regarding a workshop on paintings which was conducted by a Kashmiri who had come from Manchester. Instead of giving permission, he asked me to stay away from Kashmiris. According to him, they collect people and influence them by their terrorist ideology. He also has problems with Biharis.
Talking about the marking system, Yunus said, "Earlier, we used to submit our work in unsealed envelopes but the grading used to be given without consulting our work even once. Later, the procedure was changed and we started submitting our work in sealed envelopes, however, nothing has changed. He still discriminates on the basis of region.”
A third-year student, Samiya Khalid, who is leading the protest told NewsClick, “Our HoD has been alleged of sexually harassing several students. Here we only have a few of the girls who have been harassed by him, there are several others who don’t want to speak due to security reasons. Our department has a four-year bachelor course and two-year master course, and imagine he is the single person who is running the department. This is because he does not want any guest faculty to be permanent. Many guest faculties have been kicked out without giving any notice. We are in dire need of a qualified teacher who can teach us.”
NewsClick also approached the HoD but he refused to comment saying that there is university protocol and it is better to speak to the administration. He also slammed the protesting students for staging a “fabricated” protest.
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