New Delhi: Since January 31, over a hundred women students of Applied Art in Jamia Millia Islamia have been protesting in a peaceful manner against their Head of Department (HoD) Hafeez Ahmad, alleging sexual harassment.
On Thursday, the protest turned violent when a few female students alleged that they were beaten up, sexually harassed and molested by some boys of the same department who were not supporting their protest. The women students claimed that the boys were accompanied by Ahmad when the incident took place.
The girl students said on Thursday evening, when the protesting students were moving toward the department to meet the HoD from gate number 7, where they had been sitting in protest since January 31, a group of boys from the Applied Arts department allegedly molested and manhandled them.
The protesting girl students accused the HoD of passing lewd comments. Some of them also accused him of favouritism. Another allegation leveled against the professor is of labelling some Kashmiri students as terrorists.
Speaking with Newsclick, a student who was beaten up, said, "We were protesting in a peaceful manner. Between 5:30 to 6 pm, some of my who were all my juniors from the same department came to us and pushed me. When I asked them not to do so, they did not stop and started beating me up. There are scratches on my hands but one student, Deepika Bhat, was injured badly and has been hospitalised."
Another female student, who said she was punched in her stomach and was admitted to Holy Family Hospital told Newsclick, "We wanted our HoD to listen to our problems but instead of coming to meet us, his goons came to intimidate us. When we intervened, they started beating us in front of the university security guards. When I fainted, no one helped me. Finally, my friends took me to hospital."
Meanwhile, sources told Newsclick that the Jamia administration had suspended three students who had been accused of physically attacking the girl students and had sent the HOD on leave. The protesting students, however, demanded a proper inquiry into the incident.
In the past, too, students have written to the Dean of Students' Welfare (DSW) and officials concerned, but till date the university administration has not taken any action against the HoD, the students said. The protesting students are demanding immediate suspension of the HoD, a safe campus and open marking system, like other departments.
The All India Students Association, which supported the protesting Jamia students, demanded immediate suspension of Hafeez Ahmad and an inquiry against him. They also reiterated their demand for a democratically elected GSCASH instead of the “toothless” Internal Complaints Committee which they said had failed to address complaints of gender discrimination in the campus.
Waqar Azam, a student, said Jamia was running without a Vice-Chancellor, which was creating administrative issues. “This fight is not just for Applied Art students but for every Jamia student as it is a matter of our university’s prestige. We want university to bring GSCASH and make safe campus for women students", he said.
Pointing out the Jamia administration’s failure to tackle such issues since long, Afshan from Bio Science said: "Jamia administration is ignoring cases like sexual harassment and regional discrimination,” citing an incident when Kashmiri students were allegedly termed terrorists.
Another woman student from the Hindi Department alleged that her classmate was sexually harassed and groped her during department festival but no action was taken, adding that they do not even know where the ICC office is in Jamia.
Also Read: Jamia Students Protest Demanding Suspension of HoD Accused of Sexual Harassment