Jamia Students’ Strike Continues Despite Violence, Apology Demanded from Administration
New Delhi: Get bouncers to foment aggression and violence and blame and terrify students into submission. This is how the Jamia Millia Islamia—a central university in the national capital—treats striking students, who are peacefully staging a protest against the presence of Israeli diplomats in a conference titled ‘Global Health Zenith Confluence, 2019’ organised by Architecture and Ekistics of the varsity on October 5.
When the administration did not lend an ear to the protesting students for 10 days, and the agitators were reportedly beaten up by the university guards and proctorial team, they gheraoed the vice chancellor’s office on October 22. The protest turned violent after after a group of students and outsiders—who, according to the protesters were “hired goons”—attacked them in full public view, with Jamia administration acting like a mute spectator.
The protesting students alleged that they were punched and hit with belts and sticks. Flower pots were also thrown at them by the attackers. The video footage of the incident confirms the allegation. Some girl students, who were filming the incident for record, were allegedly sexually assaulted.
But the university administration, instead of acting tough on the attackers, is defending them. The university is calling them “angels” who came as “saviours” for the administration.
“While we were filming the incident, we were hit by the hired goons of Jamia with belts and sticks. Holding my hand, one of them dragged me. He was trying to snatch my phone, which had hit my body. He put his hands inside my clothes to pull my phone out. He left me after I bit his hand,” said Ladeeda Farzana, a student of BA Arabic, while speaking to NewsClick.
When Jamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar had taken charge, she had said that the university campus will be made more women-friendly, said Ayesha Ranna, asking, “Is it a women-friendly campus where girl students are physically assaulted by outsiders, at university’s behest, dragged on the floor and molested?”
She said, “Some students fainted, some were being rushed to the hospital right in front of my eyes. They were chasing us and hitting us.”
“Why are there guards on the campus? Is it to protect the students or just to check our ID cards? They just stood there and did absolutely nothing to stop what was happening. We could not even reach out for help. This was why we believe this was a fully planned attack," said Ranna, who is a student of MA, History.
The university has not, so far, lodged any complaint in this regard with the police, nor are they assuring action against the attackers. On the other hand, the students, who were beaten up and molested went to Jamia Nagar police station to lodge a complaint. They have been provided an entry number of their complaints, but no FIR has been registered.
Instead of taking to students to resolve the stalemate, the Jamia administration has asked the police to enter the campus and launch a crackdown on the protesting students, alleged the protesters. Cops, in large numbers, are camping outside the varsity campus and are negotiating with students to end the strike.
However, the students are hellbent that they won’t end the strike till their six demands—action against the attackers, disciplinary action against the proctorial staff who had earlier manhandled the students, withdrawal of the show cause notice issued to the protesting students, no intimidation of students who are taking part in the protest and written apology from the vice chancellor on the entire turn of events—are met.
A few members of the Jamia Teachers' Association had tried to speak with the students. "What they were offering was not acceptable to us. Also, we have nothing against the JTA, but we want somebody from the administration or the VC to address us. Until that happens, we are not going to call off this protest," a student said.
This is the 10th day of the protest, but it is the first time that the campus has shut down entirely. "Even the library and the canteen are shut today. All these days, the college was functioning as usual. However, a group of us were consistently protesting. But, after what happened yesterday, thousands from the student community have come together to demand justice," they added.
COMPLETE SHUT DOWN, NO CLASSES HELD
Refusing to cow down, hundreds of students of Jamia Millia Islamia gathered at the Vice Chancellor's office on October 23 as well, for the second day in succession. The campus has been completely shut down. Students have boycotted the classes today.
While the administration continues to maintain that a scuffle had broken out, students claim that outsiders were hired by the administration to beat them up. The students claimed to have recognised some of them as “goondas (goons)” who were often seen outside the campus.
JAMIA DENIES ALLEGATION
The JMI administration claimed that the scuffle broke out when protesting students refused to allow delegates of a conference organised by the English Department to leave the venue. The students allegedly refused to let the delegates move their vehicles and so, a scuffle broke out between them and the students who were with the delegates.
However, the students claim that the attackers were not students on the campus and had been hired from outside. The students were particularly enraged by the fact that the guards just stood and watched while both male and female students were being beaten up by the “goons”.
When asked as what action the university is initiating against the allegation of molestation, Jamia PRO Ahmad Azeem told NewsClick, “It is for the higher administration to decide.”
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