Around 10 students have been on this strike since October 25, in a bid to demand student union elections in the varsity.
The protesting students say that the university was founded as part of the ‘fight for democracy’ against the British, which demanded that Indians be allowed to choose their own representatives to govern them. Protesting students told The Quint that they will celebrate Founder’s Day only after they are granted the rights their predecessors enjoyed.
Students quoted Jamia Vice-Chancellor, Talat Ahmed, as saying that the elections could not be held because the matter is sub-judice and thus any move made by the University will be seen as ‘contempt of court’ on their part.
But the real story looks a little different.
The last student union in place in the university was dissolved in the year 2006 claiming that the student body was hindering the academic progress of the institution. In fact, JMI is the only prominent central university in Delhi which doesn’t have a students’ union. The other prominent ones – JNU and DU – have a robust union and elections. The struggle to resurrect the body has been on for the past 11 years with the students claiming that the administration has left no stones unturned to thwart all their efforts.
Students have alleged the university has taken no steps withdraw its position from the court, a move that could re-open talks about the elections between the students and the administration.
Polls were banned in 2006 over allegations by Jamia that student representatives had started interfering in administrative work. In 2011, three former students moved the Delhi HC demanding a students’ union, reported The Indian Express.
It is indeed quite shocking and absurd that a central university, which is associated with the anti-imperialist movement, is apolitical.
Protesters also have a list of other student-centric demands which they claim can only be fulfilled once a democratically elected union is set up. Some of these demands are: setting up of a 24-hour library, a working anti-sexual harassment cell, and so on.
“The Jamia administration treats the university as their personal jaeger (fiefdom). They are completely anti-students and routinely issue diktats without even consulting anyone. Constant fee hikes, delay in declaration of results, regular paper leaks – you name it, the bureaucracy here is completely inefficient and corrupt. We want to ensure these things don’t happen,” says Ihtesam, a student of BA programme to ScoopWhoop.
In 2012, a group led by then-student Hamidur Rahman, filed a writ (Petition No 917/2012 titled ‘Hamidur Rahman vs JMI’), stating that they didn’t want Jamia authorities to hold direct elections for a student council.
In an official release, the university said: “ A group of nine students have intervened in the Writ Petition and filed an application dated February 2012 praying to present their case in the larger academic interest of Jamia. In paragraph 9 of the said application, these students have opposed any direction system of elections in the Jamia Millia Islamia. This application was admitted on record by the High Court of Delhi”.
“The writ for the case that the VC keeps mentioning, was filed in 2012. The student who had filed the case is currently not a student at this University anymore. More importantly, there were nine students who were forced by the administration to go to the court and file a case that they didn’t want any direct system of elections” said Amber Fatmi, President of AISA (Delhi Unit) told The Quint.
For now, the students have the blazing passion of not discontinuing the strike as long as the authorities give in to their demands and allow them to hold elections for a representative student body.
Image Credits: Scoopwhoop
Ankita Dhar Karmakar